Arbovirus Investigations in Argentina, 1977–1980

I. Historical Aspects and Description of Study Sites

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  • * Institute of Virology, Faculty of Medical Science, University of Cordoba, Estafeta 32, Cordoba, Argentina
  • | Division of Vector-Borne Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, P.O. Box 2087, Fort Collins, Colorado 80522
  • | Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention, P.O. Box 90, Room 1006, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17108
  • | § Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Santa Fe Province, Santa Fe, Argentina

This is the introductory paper to a series on the ecology of arboviruses in Argentina. Epizootics of equine encephalitis have occurred since at least 1908, principally in the Pampa and Espinal biogeographic zones, with significant economic losses; human cases of encephalitis have been rare or absent. Both western equine and eastern equine encephalitis viruses have been isolated from horses during these epizootics, but the mosquitoes responsible for transmission have not been identified. A number of isolations of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus were reported between 1936 and 1958 in Argentina, but the validity of these findings has been seriously questioned. Nevertheless, serological evidence exists for human infections with a member of the VEE virus complex. Serological surveys conducted in the 1960s indicate a high prevalence of infection of humans and domestic animals with St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), and 2 SLE virus strains have been isolated from rodents. Human disease, however, has rarely been associated with SLE infection. Only 7 isolations of other arboviruses have been described (3 of Maguari, 1 of Aura, 2 of Una, and 1 of an untyped Bunyamwera group virus). In 1977, we began longitudinal field studies in Santa Fe Province, the epicenter of previous equine epizootics, and in 1980 we extended these studies to Chaco and Corrientes provinces. The study sites are described in this paper.