Serological evidence for Saint Louis encephalitis virus in free-ranging New World monkeys and horses within the upper Paraná River basin region, Southern Brazil

Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2014 May-Jun;47(3):280-6. doi: 10.1590/0037-8682-0083-2014.


Introduction: Saint Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) primarily occurs in the Americas and produces disease predominantly in humans. This study investigated the serological presence of SLEV in nonhuman primates and horses from southern Brazil.

Methods: From June 2004 to December 2005, sera from 133 monkeys (Alouatta caraya, n=43; Sapajus nigritus, n=64; Sapajus cay, n=26) trap-captured at the Paraná River basin region and 23 blood samples from farm horses were obtained and used for the serological detection of a panel of 19 arboviruses. All samples were analyzed in a hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay; positive monkey samples were confirmed in a mouse neutralization test (MNT). Additionally, all blood samples were inoculated into C6/36 cell culture for viral isolation.

Results: Positive seroreactivity was only observed for SLEV. A prevalence of SLEV antibodies in sera was detected in Alouatta caraya (11.6%; 5/43), Sapajus nigritus (12.5%; 8/64), and S. cay (30.8%; 8/26) monkeys with the HI assay. Of the monkeys, 2.3% (1/42) of A. caraya, 6.3% 94/64) of S. nigritus, and 15.4% (4/26) of S. cay were positive for SLEV in the MNT. Additionally, SLEV antibodies were detected by HI in 39.1% (9/23) of the horses evaluated in this study. Arboviruses were not isolated from any blood sample.

Conclusions: These results confirmed the presence of SLEV in nonhuman primates and horses from southern Brazil. These findings most likely represent the first detection of this virus in nonhuman primates beyond the Amazon region. The detection of SLEV in animals within a geographical region distant from the Amazon basin suggests that there may be widespread and undiagnosed dissemination of this disease in Brazil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Encephalitis Virus, St. Louis / immunology*
  • Encephalitis, St. Louis / diagnosis
  • Encephalitis, St. Louis / epidemiology
  • Encephalitis, St. Louis / veterinary*
  • Hemagglutination Inhibition Tests / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases / diagnosis
  • Horse Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Horse Diseases / virology
  • Horses
  • Mice
  • Monkey Diseases / diagnosis
  • Monkey Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Monkey Diseases / virology
  • Platyrrhini
  • Prevalence


  • Antibodies, Viral