Members of the genera Alphavirus (family Togaviridae) and Flavivirus (family Flaviridae) are important zoonotic human and equine etiologic agents of neurologic diseases in the New World. In 2010, an outbreak of Madariaga virus (MADV; formerly eastern equine encephalitis virus) and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) infections was reported in eastern Panamá. We further characterized the epidemiology of the outbreak by studying household contacts of confirmed human cases and of equine cases with neurological disease signs. Serum samples were screened using a hemagglutination inhibition test, and human results were confirmed using plaque reduction neutralization tests. A generalized linear model was used to evaluate the human MADV and VEEV seroprevalence ratios by age (in tercile) and gender. Overall, antibody prevalence for human MADV infection was 19.4%, VEEV 33.3%, and Mayaro virus 1.4%. In comparison with individuals aged 2–20 years, people from older age groups (21–41 and > 41 years) were five times more likely to have antibodies against VEEV, whereas the MADV prevalence ratio was independent of age. The overall seroprevalence of MADV in equids was 26.3%, VEEV 29.4%, West Nile virus (WNV) 2.6%, and St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) was 63.0%. Taken together, our results suggest that multiple arboviruses are circulating in human and equine populations in Panamá. Our findings of a lack of increase in the seroprevalence ratio with age support the hypothesis of recent MADV exposure to people living in the affected region.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases