Viruses Isolated from Panamanian Sloths

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  • Gorgas Memorial Laboratory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, P.O. Box 935, APO Miami, Florida 34002, Panamá

Seven virus strains were isolated in Vero cells from whole blood samples from 80 wild-caught sloths, Bradypus variegatus and Choloepus hoffmanni, from Central Panamá. Four strains of at least two different serotypes are related to Changuinola virus; two of these were associated with prolonged or recrudescent viremias. One strain is an antigenic subtype of Punta Toro virus, and another, described here as Bradypus-4 virus, is a new, antigenically ungrouped virus. A second new virus from sloths, Utive virus, forms an antigenic complex within the Simbu serogroup with Utinga and Pintupo viruses. Tests on sequential plasma samples from radio-marked free-ranging sloths and from recently captured animals maintained in captivity showed that both species develop neutralizing antibodies following naturally acquired virus infections. Antibodies against the Changuinola and Simbu serogroup viruses are widespread in both sloth species and are especially prevalent in Choloepus, but are virtually absent in all other wild vertebrate species tested.

Author Notes

Present address: Microbiology Division, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, 114 Woodland Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06105.