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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2009 Jan;80(1):85-95.

Detection of RNA from a novel West Nile-like virus and high prevalence of an insect-specific flavivirus in mosquitoes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

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Laboratorio de Arbovirologia, Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.


As part of our ongoing surveillance efforts for West Nile virus (WNV) in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, 96,687 mosquitoes collected from January through December 2007 were assayed by virus isolation in mammalian cells. Three mosquito pools caused cytopathic effect. Two isolates were orthobunyaviruses (Cache Valley virus and Kairi virus) and the identity of the third infectious agent was not determined. A subset of mosquitoes was also tested by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using WNV-, flavivirus-, alphavirus-, and orthobunyavirus-specific primers. A total of 7,009 Culex quinquefasciatus in 210 pools were analyzed. Flavivirus RNA was detected in 146 (70%) pools, and all PCR products were sequenced. The nucleotide sequence of one PCR product was most closely related (71-73% identity) with homologous regions of several other flaviviruses, including WNV, St. Louis encephalitis virus, and Ilheus virus. These data suggest that a novel flavivirus (tentatively named T'Ho virus) is present in Mexico. The other 145 PCR products correspond to Culex flavivirus, an insect-specific flavivirus first isolated in Japan in 2003. Culex flavivirus was isolated in mosquito cells from approximately one in four homogenates tested. The genomic sequence of one isolate was determined. Surprisingly, heterogeneous sequences were identified at the distal end of the 5' untranslated region.

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