Genetic Characterization of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru: Identification of a New Subtype ID Lineage
Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus was isolated in 1993, 1994, and 1995 from human cases of acute, undifferentiated, febrile illness in the Peruvian Amazon Basin. Two virus isolates were recovered in 1994 from Peruvian soldiers at a jungle outpost near Pantoja in northern Peru, and 10 isolates were obtained from military personnel and civilians in 1993-1995 in Iquitos, an urban center in northeastern Peru. The genetic relationship of these isolates to other VEE virus strains was determined by sequencing 856-867 nucleotide reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction fragments derived from the PE2 glycoprotein gene. The sequences were compared with those of other VEE virus strains, including representatives of the IAB, IC, ID, IE, II, and IIIC subtypes. The two Pantoja isolates were most closely related to subtype IC and ID viruses previously isolated in Colombia and Venezuela, and to the ID viruses isolated during the 1970s in Iquitos. All of the recent Iquitos isolates were similar to one another, but they were more closely related to Panamanian ID strains than to isolates previously obtained in Iquitos, Peru, or in Colombia and Venezuela. The recent Iquitos VEE viral isolates were the first Panama-genotype VEE ID virus strains identified outside of the Republic of Panama.