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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


KOMAR, Nicholas  and  CLARK, Gary G.. West Nile virus activity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.19, n.2, pp.112-117. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: West Nile virus (Flavivirus: Flaviviridae; WNV) has spread rapidly throughout the Caribbean Basin since its initial detection there in 2001. This report summarizes our current knowledge of WNV transmission in tropical America. METHODS: We reviewed the published literature and consulted with key public health officials to obtain unpublished data. RESULTS: West Nile virus infections first appeared in human residents of the Cayman Islands and the Florida Keys in 2001, and in apparently healthy Jamaican birds sampled early in 2002. Serologic evidence of WNV infection in 2002 was detected in horses, chickens and resident free-ranging birds in Guadeloupe, the Dominican Republic, and eastern Mexico. In 2003, WNV spread in Mexico and northern Central America, and serologic evidence was detected in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Cuba. In 2004, the first serologic evidence of WNV activity in South American ecosystems surfaced in September-October in Colombia and Trinidad, where domestic animals circulated WNV-neutralizing antibodies. CONCLUSIONS: The sparse reports of equine, human and avian disease in Latin America and the Caribbean is puzzling. Isolates are needed to evaluate viral attenuation or other possible explanations for reduced disease burden in tropical ecosystems.

Keywords : West Nile virus; Latin America; Caribbean region; arboviruses; population surveillance; flavivirus.

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