Venezuelan equine encephalitis in Panama: Fatal endemic disease and genetic diversity of etiologic viral strains

Evelia Quiroz, Patricia Aguilar, Julio Cisneros, Robert B. Tesh, Scott Weaver

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

32 Scopus citations


Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) is a reemerging, mosquito-borne viral disease of the neotropics that is severely debilitating and sometimes fatal to humans. Periodic epidemics mediated by equine amplification have been recognized since the 1920s, but interepidemic disease is rarely recognized. We report here clinical findings and genetic characterization of 42 cases of endemic VEE detected in Panama from 1961-2004. Recent clusters of cases occurred in Darien (eastern Panama) and Panama provinces (central Panama) near rainforest and swamp habitats. Patients ranged from 10 months to 48 years of age, and the more severe cases with neurological complications, including one fatal infection, were observed in children. The VEE virus strains isolated from these cases all belonged to an enzootic, subtype ID lineage known to circulate among sylvatic vectors and rodent reservoir hosts in Panama and Peru. These findings underscore endemic VEE as an important but usually neglected arboviral disease of Latin America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
StatePublished - 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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