According to a recent release, Japan Aalto Bio Reagents launches the first commercially available protein for the detection and diagnosis of Venezuela Equine Encephalitis NSP2 TC83.
Venezuela Equine Encephalitis is a mosquito-borne viral pathogen that causes Venezuela Equine Encephalitis or Encephalomyelitis (VEE). VEE can affect humans and animals alike causing flu-like symptoms and headaches in healthy humans and causing serious illness and death in the young, the elderly, and immunocompromised patients.
The virus that causes VEE can be spread mainly by mosquitos that bite and infect humans and or animals. The virus can spread very quickly dependent on the subtype of VEE that is transmitted and the density of the mosquito populations near an outbreak region. Enzoonotic subtypes of VEE are endemic to certain geographical areas.
In the Americas, there have been 21 reported outbreaks of VEE to date. The virus was first isolated in 1938 and the outbreaks have incurred in the United States, Columbia, Mexico, Venezuela of most note in the Americas. VEE normally occurs after periods of long precipitation which cause the mosquito populations to soar.
One of the largest outbreaks of the virus occurred in Columbia in 1995 with 14,156 human cases with over 26 reported deaths. One of the key reasons for the outbreak was the large level of rainfall that season in Columbia. The other key item around the outbreak is the deforestation that caused a change in the mosquito species Aedes taeniorhynchus mosquitos which prefer to feed on equine populations, replaced Culex taenopius mosquitos which prefer to feed on rodents.
There is an inactivated vaccine available for animals which contains the C-84 strain for VEEV, and it is primarily used on horses. In the case of humans there is another rudimentary vaccine which contains the TC-83 strain and is only used to date on military and lab personnel. However, clinicians have found that the vaccine does have side effects and does not fully immunize the patient.
The Aalto Bio team believe their new protein will help further the development of a more mainstream vaccine which will give greater or full immunization to vaccine candidates and allow faster infield diagnostics of the virus. It should also be noted that during the cold war, both the U.S. and Soviet biological weapons program researched and developed the VEEV virus.