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Annu Rev Entomol. 2004;49:141-74.

Venezuelan equine encephalitis.

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Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-0609, USA.


Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) remains a naturally emerging disease threat as well as a highly developed biological weapon. Recently, progress has been made in understanding the complex ecological and viral genetic mechanisms that coincide in time and space to generate outbreaks. Enzootic, equine avirulent, serotype ID VEEV strains appear to alter their serotype to IAB or IC, and their vertebrate and mosquito host range, to mediate repeated VEE emergence via mutations in the E2 envelope glycoprotein that represent convergent evolution. Adaptation to equines results in highly efficient amplification, which results in human disease. Although epizootic VEEV strains are opportunistic in their use of mosquito vectors, the most widespread outbreaks appear to involve specific adaptation to Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus, the most common vector in many coastal areas. In contrast, enzootic VEEV strains are highly specialized and appear to utilize vectors exclusively in the Spissipes section of the Culex (Melanoconion) subgenus.

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