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Viruses in the genus Flavivirus (family Flaviviridae) include many arthropod-borne viruses of public health and veterinary importance. However, during the past two decades an explosion of novel insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFs), some closely related to vertebrate pathogens, have been discovered. Although many flavivirus pathogens of vertebrates have been isolated from naturally infected mosquitoes in Panama, ISFs have not previously been reported from the country. This report describes the isolation and characterization of a novel ISF, tentatively named Mercadeo virus (MECDV), obtained from Culex spp. mosquitoes collected in Panama. Two MECDV isolates were sequenced and cluster phylogenetically with cell-fusing agent virus (CFAV) and Nakiwogo virus (NAKV) to form a distinct lineage within the insect-specific group of flaviviruses.
Financial support: This work was supported in part by NIH contract HHSN272201000040I/HHSN27200004/D04 (RBT, HG, VP, NV), FID-09-103 from SENACYT-Panama (J-PC) and by Ministerio de Economia y Finanzas de Panama, project code: 9044.027 (LC-C).
Authors' addresses: Jean-Paul Carrera, Department of Virology and Biotechnology Research, Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies, Panama City, Panama, and School of Medicine, Columbus University, Panama City, Panama, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hilda Guzman, Vsevolod Popov, Scott C. Weaver, Nikos Vasilakis, and Robert B. Tesh, Department of Pathology, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, and Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, E-mails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. Davis Beltrán, Yamilka Díaz, and Sandra López-Vergès, Department of Virology and Biotechnology Research, Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies, Panama City, Panama, E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. Rolando Torres-Cosme and Lorenzo Cáceres-Carrera, Department of Medical Entomology, Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies, Panama City, Panama, E-mails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Steven G. Widen and Thomas G. Wood, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, E-mails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.