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Alphaviruses 

Alphaviruses

Chapter:
Alphaviruses
Author(s):

E.E. Ooi

, L.R. Petersen

, and D.J. Gubler

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199204854.003.070512_update_001

Update:

Epidemiology and ecology—new information on hosts and vectors.

Diagnosis—use of PCR.

Mayaro virus—clinical features.

Vaccines—progress.

Updated on 31 May 2012. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 28 April 2017

There are 29 registered alphaviruses belonging to the family Togaviridae, 16 of which are known to cause human infection. They are RNA viruses with global geographical distribution and complex transmission cycles between wild or domestic animals or birds and one or more mosquito species; humans are infected by mosquito bites. They cause a spectrum of clinical manifestations ranging from nonspecific febrile illness to acute encephalitis and death. Diagnosis of infection is made serologically by detection of IgM and IgG antibodies, virus isolation, and polymerase chain reaction, or by immunohistochemistry on tissue samples.

Old World alphaviruses, including Chikungunya, Ross River, Sindbis, Barmah Forest, Mayaro and O’nyong-nyong, generally have mammals as their natural vertebrate host and, cause acute febrile illness characterized by rash and arthritis. Management is symptomatic; prevention and control is by reducing vector mosquito populations and by avoiding mosquito bites. Several efforts to develop vaccines for Chikungunya and Ross River viruses are in progress and are at different stages development.

The New World alphaviruses, eastern and western equine encephalitides, generally have birds as their natural vertebrate hosts, while the Venezuelan equine encephalitis complex have rodents as their natural hosts. About 2% of adults infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (less for other types) develop encephalitis, which can be fatal, with permanent neurological sequelae in many survivors; management is symptomatic; prevention and control is by reducing vector mosquito populations and by avoiding mosquito bites. Various vaccines have been used in laboratory workers and others at high risk of exposure. New generation vaccines are in clinical trials.

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