Am J Trop Med Hyg 2018 Jun 5;98(6):1811-1818. Epub 2018 Apr 5.
Sección Virología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay.
Alphaviruses () are arboviruses frequently associated with emerging infectious diseases. In this study, we aimed to investigate the presence of alphaviruses in Uruguay by detecting the viral genome in mosquitoes and neutralizing antibodies in equines. A total of 3,575 mosquitoes were analyzed for alphavirus genome detection. Serologic studies were performed on 425 horse sera by plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) against Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) subtype IAB, Pixuna virus (PIXV), Rio Negro virus (RNV), western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV), and Madariaga virus (MADV). Mosquitoes belonging to six genera were captured and 82.9% were identified as . Two pools collected in Fray Bentos and Las Toscas localities were alphavirus positive, and phylogenetic analyses showed that the sequences grouped into two different clusters: the lineage I of eastern equine encephalitis virus and RNV (VEEV complex), respectively. Plaque reduction neutralization test assays showed antibodies against strains of the VEEV complex, MADV, and WEEV. Rio Negro virus was the most geographically widespread virus, showing higher seroprevalences (up to 20%). Seroprevalences against VEEV IAB ranged between 4.6% and 13%; antibodies against PIXV, WEEV, and MADV were less frequent (3-4%). In conclusion, RNV exhibited the highest seroprevalence in horses, a wide geographical distribution, and viral genome was detected in mosquitoes. Madariaga virus had a low seroprevalence in equines, but an epizootic lineage typical of North America was detected in mosquitoes. Taken together, our results show that alphaviruses are present in Uruguay with variable occurrence and geographical distribution being a potential threat for human and equine health.