Geographic distribution of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus subtype IE genotypes in Central America and Mexico.

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  • 1 U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland 21702-5011, USA.

Phylogenetic analysis of 20 strains of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus subtype IE isolated from 1961 to 1996 in Mexico and throughout Central America showed that VEE virus subtype IE was monophyletic with respect to other VEE virus subtypes. Nonetheless, there were at least three distinct geographically separated VEE virus IE genotypes: northwestern Panama, Pacific coast (Mexico/Guatemala), and Gulf/Caribbean coast (Mexico/Belize). Strains from the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua may cluster with the Gulf/Caribbean genotype, but additional isolates from the region between Guatemala and Panama will be required to firmly establish their phylogenetic position. Viruses associated with two separate equine epizootics in Mexico in the 1990s were phylogenetically related to nonepizootic viruses from neighboring Guatemala and may represent the emergence or re-emergence of equine-virulent VEE virus subtype IE in Middle America.

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