An Unusual Strain of Venezuelan Encephalitis Virus Existing Sympatrically with Subtype I-D Strains in a Peruvian Rain Forest

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  • Department of Microbiology, Cornell University Medical College, 1300 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021

In 1971, an unusual strain of Venezuelan encephalitis (VE) virus (71D1252) was recovered from the same small area of a rain forest in the western Amazon basin of South America near Iquitos, Loreto, Peru, from which strains of subtype I-D were recovered. The marker characteristics of this strain resembled most closely those of VE subtype III (Mucambo) and were distinctly different from coexisting I-D strains. Thus the concurrent presence of two different VE virus subtypes in one place was a striking exception to the usual geographic allopatry of VE virus subtypes. Strain 71D1252 also contained temperature sensitive (ts) (37°C versus 39°C) virions in the original mosquito suspension and first suckling mouse passage brain tissue suspensions. It thus represents one of the few so-far-reported ts strains of viruses found in nature, and the only natural ts strain of VE virus.