* 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
† Department of Microbiology, Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, 1300 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021
To determine the degree of genetic variation within one serologic group of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and the relatedness of viruses with different epidemiologic backgrounds isolated within the same country, virion RNA from 16 isolates belonging to subtype I were compared by RNase T1 oligonucleotide fingerprinting. RNA fingerprints of 12 enzootic isolates showed a large degree of heterogeneity, even though they were serologically indistinguishable. A reference enzootic strain from Colombia showed more genetic relatedness to three epizootic strains isolated in the same country, than to its own serogroup prototype strain isolated in Panama. Thus, genetic relatedness within Venezuelan equine encephalitis strains in Colombia seems to be a function of geography rather than epidemiology.