Emergence of <i>Madariaga virus</i> as a cause of acute febrile illness in children, Haiti, 2015-2016

by John A. Lednicky, Sarah K. White, Carla N. Mavian, Maha A. El Badry, Taina Telisma, Marco Salemi, Bernard A. OKech, V. Madsen Beau De Rochars, J. Glenn Morris Jr.

Madariaga virus (MADV), also known as South American eastern equine encephalitis virus, has been identified in animals and humans in South and Central America, but not previously in Hispaniola or the northern Caribbean. MADV was isolated from virus cultures of plasma from an 8-year-old child in a school cohort in the Gressier/Leogane region of Haiti, who was seen in April, 2015, with acute febrile illness (AFI). The virus was subsequently cultured from an additional seven AFI case patients from this same cohort in February, April, and May 2016. Symptoms most closely resembled those seen with confirmed dengue virus infection. Sequence data were available for four isolates: all were within the same clade, with phylogenetic and molecular clock data suggesting recent introduction of the virus into Haiti from Panama sometime in the period from October 2012-January 2015. Our data document the movement of MADV into Haiti, and raise questions about the potential for further spread in the Caribbean or North America.

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