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Emerg Infect Dis. 2008 Mar;14(3):454-60. doi: 10.3201/eid1403.070816.

Molecular epidemiology of eastern equine encephalitis virus, New York.

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New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York, USA.


Perpetuation, overwintering, and extinction of eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) in northern foci are poorly understood. We therefore sought to describe the molecular epidemiology of EEEV in New York State during current and past epizootics. To determine whether EEEV overwinters, is periodically reintroduced, or both, we sequenced the E2 and partial NSP3 coding regions of 42 EEEV isolates from New York State and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Our phylogenetic analyses indicated that derived subclades tended to contain southern strains that had been isolated before genetically similar northern strains, suggesting southern to northern migration of EEEV along the Eastern Seaboard. Strong clustering among strains isolated during epizootics in New York from 2003-2005, as well as from 1974-1975, demonstrates that EEEV has overwintered in this focus. This study provides molecular evidence for the introduction of southern EEEV strains to New York, followed by local amplification, perpetuation, and overwintering.

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