Hunting in the Rainforest and Mayaro Virus Infection: An emerging Alphavirus in Ecuador

Department of Global Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA.
Journal of global infectious diseases 10/2011; 3(4):317-23. DOI: 10.4103/0974-777X.91049
Source: PubMed


The objectives of this report were to document the potential presence of Mayaro virus infection in Ecuador and to examine potential risk factors for Mayaro virus infection among the personnel of a military garrison in the Amazonian rainforest.
The study population consisted of the personnel of a garrison located in the Ecuadorian Amazonian rainforest. The cross-sectional study employed interviews and seroepidemiological methods. Humoral immune response to Mayaro virus infection was assessed by evaluating IgM- and IgG-specific antibodies using ELISA.
Of 338 subjects studied, 174 were from the Coastal zone of Ecuador, 73 from Andean zone, and 91 were native to the Amazonian rainforest. Seroprevalence of Mayaro virus infection was more than 20 times higher among Amazonian natives (46%) than among subjects born in other areas (2%).
Age and hunting in the rainforest were significant predictors of Mayaro virus infection overall and among Amazonian natives. The results provide the first demonstration of the potential presence of Mayaro virus infection in Ecuador and a systematic evaluation of risk factors for the transmission of this alphavirus. The large difference in prevalence rates between Amazonian natives and other groups and between older and younger natives suggest that Mayaro virus is endemic and enzootic in the rainforest, with sporadic outbreaks that determine differences in risk between birth cohorts of natives. Deep forest hunting may selectively expose native men, descendants of the Shuar and Huaronai ethnic groups, to the arthropod vectors of Mayaro virus in areas close to primate reservoirs.

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    • "The virus is transmitted by bites of Haemagogus janthinomys which lives in the forest canopy and propagates in a sylvatic cycle predominantly in monkeys [16,17]. Hence, working and living in the Amazon rain forest is the most important risk factor for the acquisition of MAYV infection [12,13,18]. Clearly, our patient was at risk while working in a wildlife resort. "
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