Ecological observations on the 1989 outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis virus in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California.

W. K. Reisen, R. P. Meyer, M. M. Milby, S. B. Presser, R. W. Emmons, J. L. Hardy, W. C. Reeves

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34 Scopus citations


Temporal and spatial patterns of St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus transmission were compared at permanent study areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley during years with low (1988 and 1990) and elevated (1989) viral activity. During 1989 and 1990, virus appeared first at sentinel chicken flocks exhibiting low to moderate seroconversion rates at the end of the previous season. This finding, and the early season seroconversion of sentinel chickens at a marsh habitat on 5 March and 2 April 1990, circumstantially indicated that SLE virus may have overwintered on the valley during the winters of 1988-1989 and 1989-1990. The mechanism of overwintering was not elucidated further, because virus could not be isolated from overwintering adult mosquitoes or from immatures collected during the spring. An outbreak of 26 confirmed SLE cases occurred in 1989 during a drought year (rainfall 50% of normal) and followed a spring with elevated temperatures (1.7-3.4 degrees C above normal) and Culex tarsalis Coquillett abundance. Cx. tarsalis was the primary vector, being most abundant during the virus amplification period in early summer and most frequently infected (70 SLE virus positive pools/329 tested). SLE virus also was detected in Culex quinquefasciatus Say (14/65) and Cx. stigmatosoma Dyar (1/4); however, both species were distributed focally and increased in abundance only after widespread seroconversions had occurred in sentinel chickens. Increased virus activity during 1989 was not accompanied by marked changes in vector susceptibility or in SLE virus infectivity for mosquitoes. Decreased virus activity in the Bakersfield area during 1990 could not be attributed to immunity in passeriform birds, because a small seroprevalence survey indicated that few adult birds had antibodies to SLE virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-482
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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