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29th January 2024 (9 Topics)

Outbreak of Western Equine Encephalitis Virus in Argentina


The Western Equine Encephalitis Virus outbreak was detected in horses in Argentina and Uruguay.

l. Outbreak of Virus

A. Background

  • Western Equine Encephalitis Virus (WEEV):Argentina's International Health Regulations National Focal Point reported a human case of Western Equine Encephalitis Virus (WEEV) infection to PAHO/WHO.

B. Outbreak Overview

  • Cross-species transmission:Concurrent outbreaks in horses in Argentina and Uruguay highlight the severity and potential for cross-species transmission.

ll. Historical Perspective

  1. Past Human Cases: Last reported human infections in Argentina were in 1982, 1983, and an isolated event in 1996.The current outbreak underscores the re-emergence of Western Equine Encephalitis after a prolonged hiatus.
  2. Regional Context: Previous outbreaks and human cases documented in the U.S. and Canada, with over 3,000 reported cases over the years.
  • Virus Threats:The virus, a recombinant of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV) and a Sindbis-like virus, poses a significant threat.

III. Virology and Transmission

A. Western Equine Encephalitis Virus (WEEV)

  • WEEV belongs to the Togaviridae family, with an 11.5-kilobase single-stranded RNA genome.
  • Passerine birds serve as reservoirs, while equine species act as intermediate hosts.
  • Mosquitoes, as vectors, transmit the virus to humans, emphasizing the importance of vector control.

lv. Control and Prevention Strategies

  1. PAHO/WHO Alert: PAHO/WHO has issued an alert on the risk of WEE spread in the Americas.
  2. One Health Approach: Emphasizes collaboration between human, animal, and environmental health sectors.Crucial for effective control and prevention of the virus.
  3. Interventions: Environmental modifications, vector control, and equine vaccination recommended in affected and high-risk regions.Enhanced surveillance and detection crucial for preventing further spread.

V. Way Forward

  • Public health threat: The Western Equine Encephalitis outbreak in Argentina and Uruguay poses a significant public health threat.
  • One Health approach:Immediate and coordinated efforts are essential to curb the spread, with a focus on the One Health approach and targeted interventions.

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