Ecologic Observations of Venezuelan Encephalitis Virus in Vertebrates and Isolations of Nepuyo and Patois Viruses from Sentinel Hamsters at Pacific and Atlantic Habitats in Guatemala, 1968–1980

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  • * Department of Microbiology, Cornell University Medical College, 1300 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021
  • | Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850
  • | University of Maryland Cancer Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
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La Avellana and Puerto Barrios, two enzootic foci of Venezuelan encephalitis (VE) virus on the Pacific and Caribbean lowlands (respectively) of Guatemala have been studied over a 13-year period. Data from sentinel hamsters and guinea pigs and wild and domestic vertebrates are reported. VE virus strains were isolated from hamsters each period they were exposed during the rainy seasons 1968–1980 and at the end of the dry season 1974. Rates of isolation of VE virus ranged from 0.2%–5.7% hamster/days/exposure. All strains tested were free of epizootic virions. Although virus was isolated from sentinel guinea pigs, their deaths were not attributable to infection with VE virus. Antibody titers in 26 of 28 terrestrial mammals bled at La Avellana in 1971 were higher to enzootic than to epizootic VE strains. Thirty-seven percent of 109 residents of Puerto Barrios had antibody to VE virus. In 13 of 20 tested, antibodies were engendered by the enzootic strain.

Nepuyo and Patois viruses were isolated from sentinel hamsters at both La Avellana and Puerto Barrios.