Discovery and Geographic Distribution of Venezuelan Encephalitis Virus in Guatemala, Honduras, and British Honduras During 1965–68, and its Possible Movement to Central America and México

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  • Department of Microbiology, Cornell University Medical College, Area of Biological Sciences, University of San Carlos Medical School, New York, N. Y., Guatemala
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The existence of Venezuelan encephalitis virus in Guatemala. Honduras, and British Honduras was established by use of sentinel hamsters and antibody tests. During July and August 1967 and 1968, virus was isolated from tissues of hamsters that became ill or died after exposure to mosquitoes in the tropical Atlantic lowlands of each country and the Pacific lowlands of Guatemala. During 1965–68, hemagglutination-inhibiting antibodies to VE virus were found at significant titers in serum from man, wild mammals (especially cotton rats, Sigmodon hispidus), horses, and perhaps pigs, neutralizing antibodies in human and horse serum, and complement-fixation antibodies in human serum. Infected habitats were often extremely focal, and were usually swamps or wet forests. The presence of VE virus at or near ports in these regions indicated possible sources for future dissemination. However, the possibility of VE-virus movement in or to Central America and México remains theoretical although knowledge available as of June 1969 is considered to be more compatible with either old endemic foci in western Panamá, Central America, and México or movement of virus within this territory, than with recent movement of virus from South to Central America.

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