Case Story


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Initiative Name:
Strengthening surveillance and capacity to respond to equine encephalitis outbreaks in Guatemala, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela
Initiative Status:
Completed and consolidating results
Adaptation, replication or scaling up of a previous initiative?
Modality of the initiative:
Disease Prevention and Control
Encefalitis Equina, EEE, Encefalitis Equina del Este, EEV, Encefalitis Equina Venezolana, EEO, Encefacilitis Equina del Oeste, ENO, Encefalitis del Nilo Occidental

Geographic Identifiers

Countries Leading or Providing Technical Cooperation:
Countries Demanding Technical Cooperation:
Colombia, Guatemala, Venezuela
Participating National Institutions, Organizations and/or Subregional Entities:
Colombia: Ministerio de Proyección Social; Ministerio de Agricultura; Instituto Nacional de Salud; Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario. Guatemala: Ministerio de Salud: a) Programa de zoonosis y rabia b) Centro Nacional de Epidemiología y c) Laboratorio Nacional de Salud; Ministerio de Agricultura: a) Dirección de Normas y regulaciones- área zoosanitaria vigilancia epidemiológica y b) Laboratorio Nacional de Salud Animal; Universidad del Valle – Colaboración UVG-CDC/CAP. Panamá: Ministerio de Salud (MINSA); Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario (MIDA)/Laboratorio de Diagnóstico e Investigación Veterinaria del MIDA (LADIV); Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de Salud (ICGES); Organismo Internacional Regional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (OIRSA). Venezuela: Ministerio de Salud; Ministerio de Agricultura; Instituto Nacional de Higiene; Instituto de Investigaciones Veterinarias.
Participating International and Multilateral Organizations:
Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS), Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS).
Initiative Start Date:
Initiative End Date:

Initiative Cost/Budget and Sources of Funding

Initiative Total Cost/Budget: (in US$)

Initiative Description

Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), Western equine encephalitis (WEE), and West Nile virus (WNV) are zoonoses, diseases transmitted to humans and horses by vertebrate animals such as wild rodents or birds, as well as by insects, such as mosquitoes. The disease is characterized by fever, followed at times by a neurological condition, which can in turn cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, or in worst-case scenarios, death. The VEE, EEE, and WEE viruses belong to the Togoviridae family and Alphavirus genus, while WNV belongs to the Flaviviridae family and Flavivirus genus. Although not all forms of equine encephalitis and its subtypes equally affect horses and humans, today epidemics and epizootics pose a serious public health problem and result in significant economic losses for the equine industry.

In order to tackle this problem, the main purpose of this project was to strengthen the equine encephalitis surveillance system so as to build capacity for a timely response to outbreaks. This was to completed by establishing a diagnostic tool using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and reverse transcription–Polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) methods that would serve as a reference for both human and animal health and which was then made available to the entire Central American subregion. Workshops and trainings were held and manuals were created. Methods used included the detection of nucleic acids through RT-PCR and the detection of antibodies immunoglobulin M (IgM) found mainly in blood and in lymphatic fluid, using the ELISA technique. Specific products resulting from this cooperation were a laboratory procedure manual for virological and serological diagnosis of the disease as well as the development of the materials and reagents to be used in applying the ELISA and RT-PCR methods in the laboratories. A plan for surveillance and control of outbreaks was developed and capacities for carrying out necessary field work were also developed. Finally, the project sought to create a collaborative network among the laboratories involved (from Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Guatemala) that would continue to work together to establish a region-wide diagnostic tool for equine encephalitis as well as a contingency plan for dealing with outbreaks.

Click here to read more about the project/initiative (in Spanish)

Additional Material:

Links and Additional Resources:

Contact Information:

Name of Contact Person:
Dr. Monica Guardo, Asesora de la OPS
Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS)