Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) causes severe neurologic disease in North America, but only two fatal human cases have been documented in South America. To test the hypothesis that alphavirus heterologous antibodies cross-protect, animals were vaccinated against other alphaviruses and challenged up to 3 months later with EEEV. Short-lived cross-protection was detected, even in the absence of cross-neutralizing antibodies. To assess exposure to EEEV in Peru, sera from acutely ill and healthy persons were tested for EEEV and other alphavirus antibodies, as well as for virus isolation. No EEEV was isolated from patients living in an EEEV-enzootic area, and only 2% of individuals with febrile illness had EEEV-reactive IgM. Only 3% of healthy persons from the enzootic region had EEEV-neutralizing antibodies. Our results suggest that humans are exposed but do not develop apparent infection with EEEV because of poor infectivity and/or avirulence of South American strains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases