Encephalitic alphaviruses

Michele A. Zacks, Slobodan Paessler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


This review will cover zoonotic, encephalitic alphaviruses in the family Togaviridae. Encephalitic alphaviruses, i.e. Western- (WEEV), Eastern- (EEEV), Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) and, more rarely, Ross River virus, Chikungunya virus and Highlands J virus (HJV), are neuroinvasive and may cause neurological symptoms ranging from mild (e.g., febrile illness) to severe (e.g., encephalitis) in humans and equines. Among the naturally occurring alphaviruses, WEEV, EEEV and VEEV have widespread distributions in North, Central and South America. WEEV has found spanning the U.S. from the mid-West (Michigan and Illinois) to the West coast and extending to Canada with human cases reported in 21 states. EEEV is found along the Gulf (Texas to Florida) and Atlantic Coast (Georgia to New Hampshire), as well as in the mid-West (Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan) and in Canada, with human cases reported in 19 states. In contrast, transmission of VEEV occurs predominantly in Central and South America. As with their geographical distribution, equine encephalitis viruses differ in their main mosquito vector species and their zoonotic potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-286
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 27 2010


  • Chikungunya virus
  • Eastern equine encephalitis virus
  • Encephalitic alphaviruses
  • Highlands J virus
  • Ross River virus
  • Togaviridae
  • Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus
  • Western equine encephalitis virus
  • Zoonoses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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