West Nile LIKE Virus
Confirmed In Central America

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

Hello, Jeff - As I suspected, we are seeing cases in Central America. Last year we saw West Nile LIKE virus spread from Coast to Coast in the US. Epidemiologists were stumped.
I suspected that West Nile LIKE virus had been establishing itself in Central, South America and the Carribbean as far back as 2000 and this theory would explain why we saw cases from Atlantic to Pacific.
There would be no reason to think that West Nile LIKE virus would not establish itself in Central and South America as well as the Carribbean as there are endemic vector populations able to spread the virus.
The question arises, "How ingrained is West Nile LIKE virus in the Western Hemisphere?" I believe that some areas of Central and South America won't know how ingrained the virus is until they witness die-offs. It would not surprise me to hear that there will penguin die=offs as far south as the tip of Argentina and Chile.
The genie is out of the bottle on this one.
Patricia Doyle
Date: Posted to ProMED Mail Sun May 4
Source: Margarita Sanchez , El Diario de Hoy (El Salvador), Tue Apr 29 2003 (translated by Maria Jacobs, ProMED-ESP) <>
(ProMED Id: 20030504.1116) Submitted to ProMED by Pablo Nart <>
Jose Francisco Lopez Beltran, Minister of Health of El Salvador, announced that on Apr 29, 2003, 3 of 10 samples sent to CDC a month ago were WNV-positive. The samples were taken from horses that died with symptoms of the disease in the locality of Usulutan.
Lopez Beltran repeated on several occasions that, thus far, there have been no reports of cases of human infection.
As a preventive measure, health authorities are monitoring the areas known to be rest stations for migrating birds, which can transport the virus over great distances. Presumably, this is how the virus reached the country.
WNV is transmitted by _Culex_ mosquitoes, a vector that breeds in stagnant waters, as opposed to _Aedes aegypti_, the vector of dengue fever, which breeds in clean water. The preventive measures implemented by the Ministry of Health include the spraying of ponds and stagnant waters. Lopez Beltran emphasized that, as with dengue fever, the best prevention is to avoid the collection of stagnant water.
[Pro-MED Commentary: This is the first report of WNV infection of horses in Central America and possibly represents the most southerly penetration of WNV infection in humans in the Americas thus far. The death of an 11-year-old boy in El Salvador in September 2002 was reported as a suspected case of WNV fever, but it is not clear whether the death of the young boy was attributed finally to WNV infection or another viral encephalitis. A human case of WNV infection (probably imported from the USA) was reported in 2002 in Mexico, and a single human case in the Cayman Islands in 2001. There have been no other confirmed reports of WNV infection in Central America or the Caribbean. - Mod.CP]
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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