Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) is a highly virulent, mosquito-borne alphavirus that causes severe and often fatal neurological disease in humans and horses in eastern North American, the Caribbean, and Mexico and throughout Central and South America. EEEV infection is diagnosed serologically by anti-EEEV-specific IgM detection, with confirmation by the plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT), which is highly specific for alphaviruses. Live virus is used in the PRNT procedure, which currently requires biosafety level 3 containment facilities and select agent security in the case of EEEV. These requirements restrict the ability of public health laboratories to conduct PRNTs. Sindbis virus (SINV)/EEEV recombinant constructs have been engineered to express the immunogenic structural proteins from 2 wild-type EEEV strains in an attenuated form. These SINV/EEEVs, which are not classified as select agents, were evaluated as alternative diagnostic reagents in a PRNT using human, equine, and murine sera. The results indicate that the chimeric viruses exhibit specificity comparable to that of wild-type EEEV, with only a slight reduction in sensitivity. Considering their benefits in increased safety and reduced regulatory requirements, these chimeric viruses should be highly useful in diagnostic laboratories throughout the Americas
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