Genetic variation among isolates of western equine encephalomyelitis virus from California.
The mechanism for long-term maintenance of western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE) virus in California was investigated by studying genetic variation in the E2 portion of the genome of 55 strains of WEE virus isolated since 1938 from different locations in California. Four major lineages were evident: virus strains isolated from the Central Valley since 1993 and Los Angeles in 1991 formed lineage A; southern California strains isolated since 1978 and isolates from the Central Valley from 1978 to 1987 formed lineage B; northern California isolates from 1968 to 1971 formed lineage C; and early isolates from 1938 to 1961 formed a fourth lineage, D. The separation of strains from north and south of the Tehachapi and San Bernardino Mountains (i.e., the Central Valley and southern California, respectively) since 1991 indicates that there has been little recent movement of virus between the two regions and recent strains from these two locations appear to be evolving independently. However, within the Central Valley and within southern California, virus appears to circulate freely, perhaps by movement of birds or mosquito vectors. Although the current virus lineage in the Central Valley may have been introduced from an unknown source in 1991, introduction and establishment of new viral genotypes from outside California do not seem to occur regularly. It appears most likely that virus is maintained in separate geographic areas of California through local persistence in enzootic foci. (+info)
Evaluation of the epidemic potential of western equine encephalitis virus in the northeastern United States.
The problem of evaluating the epidemic potential of western equine encephalitis in the northeastern United States is presented and possible reasons are discussed for the present lack of human and horse cases of this disease even though increased numbers of isolations of the virus have been obtained in the East during recent years. Epidemiologic factors of vector bionomics and virus strain variations are considered. It is concluded that while this virus strain can no longer be regarded as uncommon in the Northeast, the evidence indicates there is little potential for epidemic expression of this agent in the human and horse population. This appears to be due to differences in the bionomics of the mosquito Culiseta melanura, which serves as the primary enzootic vector in the northeastern United States and in the bionomics of Culex tarsalis that is the vector in the western region of the United States. Other limiting factors in the epidemic potential may be variations between virus strains located in the East and West. (+info)
Isolation of eastern equine encephalitis virus in A549 and MRC-5 cell cultures.
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been diagnosed either serologically or by virus isolation. Until now, the recovery of EEE virus has been delegated to reference laboratories with the expertise and resources needed to amplify the virus in a susceptible vertebrate host and/or to isolate and identify the virus in cell culture. We report a case in which EEE virus was recovered directly from a patient's cerebrospinal fluid in A549 and MRC-5 cell cultures. Many clinical virology laboratories routinely use these cells to recover adenovirus, herpes simplex virus, and enterovirus. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of isolation of EEE virus in A549 cell culture. This report demonstrates the possibility of recovery of EEE virus in cell culture without the necessity of bioamplification or maintaining unusual cell lines. (+info)
Eastern equine encephalitis virus in birds: relative competence of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).
To determine whether eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus infection in starlings may be more fulminant than in various native candidate reservoir birds, we compared their respective intensities and durations of viremia. Viremias are more intense and longer lasting in starlings than in robins and other birds. Starlings frequently die as their viremia begins to wane; other birds generally survive. Various Aedes as well as Culiseta melanura mosquitoes can acquire EEE viral infection from infected starlings under laboratory conditions. The reservoir competence of a bird is described as the product of infectiousness (proportion of feeding mosquitoes that become infected) and the duration of infectious viremia. Although starlings are not originally native where EEE is enzootic, a starling can infect about three times as many mosquitoes as can a robin. (+info)
Genetic evidence for the origins of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus subtype IAB outbreaks.
Epizootics of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) involving subtype IAB viruses occurred sporadically in South, Central and North America from 1938 to 1973. Incompletely inactivated vaccines have long been suspected as a source of the later epizootics. We tested this hypothesis by sequencing the PE2 glycoprotein precursor (1,677 nucleotides) or 26S/nonstructural protein 4 (nsP4) genome regions (4,490 nucleotides) for isolates representing most major outbreaks. Two distinct IAB genotypes were identified: 1) 1940s Peruvian strains and 2) 1938-1973 isolates from South, Central, and North America. Nucleotide sequences of these two genotypes differed by 1.1%, while the latter group showed only 0.6% sequence diversity. Early VEE virus IAB strains that were used for inactivated vaccine preparation had sequences identical to those predicted by phylogenetic analyses to be ancestors of the 1960s-1970s outbreaks. These data support the hypothesis of a vaccine origin for many VEE outbreaks. However, continuous, cryptic circulation of IAB viruses cannot be ruled out as a source of epizootic emergence. (+info)
Genetic and antigenic diversity among eastern equine encephalitis viruses from North, Central, and South America.
Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), the sole species in the EEE antigenic complex, is divided into North and South American antigenic varieties based on hemagglutination inhibition tests. Here we describe serologic and phylogenetic analyses of representatives of these varieties, spanning the entire temporal and geographic range available. Nucleotide sequencing and phylogenetic analyses revealed additional genetic diversity within the South American variety; 3 major South/Central American lineages were identified including one represented by a single isolate from eastern Brazil, and 2 lineages with more widespread distributions in Central and South America. All North American isolates comprised a single, highly conserved lineage with strains grouped by the time of isolation and to some extent by location. An EEEV strain isolated during a 1996 equine outbreak in Tamaulipas State, Mexico was closely related to recent Texas isolates, suggesting southward EEEV transportation beyond the presumed enzootic range. Plaque reduction neutralization tests with representatives from the 4 major lineages indicated that each represents a distinct antigenic subtype. A taxonomic revision of the EEE complex is proposed. (+info)
Improvement of western blot test specificity for detecting equine serum antibodies to Sarcocystis neurona.
Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a neurological disease of horses and ponies caused by the apicomplexan protozoan parasite Sarcocystis neurona. The purposes of this study were to develop the most stringent criteria possible for a positive test result, to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of the EPM Western blot antibody test, and to assess the ability of bovine antibodies to Sarcocystis cruzi to act as a blocking agent to minimize false-positive results in the western blot test for S. neurona. Sarcocystis neurona merozoites harvested from equine dermal cell culture were heat denatured, and the proteins were separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in a 12-20% linear gradient gel. Separated proteins were electrophoretically transferred to polyvinylidene fluoride membranes and blocked in 1% bovine serum albumin and 0.5% Tween-Tris-buffered saline. Serum samples from 6 horses with S. neurona infections (confirmed by culture from neural tissue) and 57 horses without infections (horses from the Eastern Hemisphere, where S. neurona does not exist) were tested by Western blot. Horses from both groups had reactivity to the 62-, 30-, 16-, 13-, 11-, 10.5-, and 10-kD bands. Testing was repeated with another step. Blots were treated with bovine S. cruzi antibodies prior to loading the equine samples. After this modification of the Western blot test, positive infection status was significantly associated with reactivity to the 30- and 16-kD bands (P<0.001, Fisher's exact test). The S. cruzi antibody-blocked Western blot had a sample sensitivity of 100% and sample specificity of 98%. It is concluded that the specificity of the Western blot test is improved by blocking proteins not specific to S. neurona and using reactivity to the 30- and 16-kD bands as the criterion for a positive test. (+info)
Development of reverse transcription-PCR assays specific for detection of equine encephalitis viruses.
Specific and sensitive reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) assays were developed for the detection of eastern, western, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses (EEE, WEE, and VEE, respectively). Tests for specificity included all known alphavirus species. The EEE-specific RT-PCR amplified a 464-bp region of the E2 gene exclusively from 10 different EEE strains from South and North America with a sensitivity of about 3,000 RNA molecules. In a subsequent nested PCR, the specificity was confirmed by the amplification of a 262-bp fragment, increasing the sensitivity of this assay to approximately 30 RNA molecules. The RT-PCR for WEE amplified a fragment of 354 bp from as few as 2,000 RNA molecules. Babanki virus, as well as Mucambo and Pixuna viruses (VEE subtypes IIIA and IV), were also amplified. However, the latter viruses showed slightly smaller fragments of about 290 and 310 bp, respectively. A subsequent seminested PCR amplified a 195-bp fragment only from the 10 tested strains of WEE from North and South America, rendering this assay virus specific and increasing its sensitivity to approximately 20 RNA molecules. Because the 12 VEE subtypes showed too much divergence in their 26S RNA nucleotide sequences to detect all of them by the use of nondegenerate primers, this assay was confined to the medically important and closely related VEE subtypes IAB, IC, ID, IE, and II. The RT-PCR-seminested PCR combination specifically amplified 342- and 194-bp fragments of the region covering the 6K gene in VEE. The sensitivity was 20 RNA molecules for subtype IAB virus and 70 RNA molecules for subtype IE virus. In addition to the subtypes mentioned above, three of the enzootic VEE (subtypes IIIB, IIIC, and IV) showed the specific amplicon in the seminested PCR. The practicability of the latter assay was tested with human sera gathered as part of the febrile illness surveillance in the Amazon River Basin of Peru near the city of Iquitos. All of the nine tested VEE-positive sera showed the expected 194-bp amplicon of the VEE-specific RT-PCR-seminested PCR. (+info)