Etiologies of Acute Undifferentiated Febrile Illnesses in and near Iquitos from 1993 to 1999 in the Amazon River Basin of Peru

Douglas M. Watts*, Kevin L. Russell, Mark T. Wooster, Trueman W. Sharp, Amy C. Morrison, Tad J. Kochel, Christian T. Bautista, Karla Block, Carolina Guevara, Patricia Aguilar, Pedro M. Palermo, Carlos Calampa, Kevin R. Porter, Curtis G. Hayes, Scott C. Weaver, Amelia Travassos de Rosa, Joseph M. Vinetz, Robert E. Shope, Eduardo Gotuzzo, Hilda GuzmanRobert B. Tesh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to determine the etiology of febrile illnesses among patients from October 1, 1993 through September 30, 1999, in the urban community of Iquitos in the Amazon River Basin of Peru. Epidemiological and clinical data as well as blood samples were obtained from consenting patients at hospitals, health clinics and private residences. Samples were tested for arboviruses in cell cultures and for IgM and IgG antibodies by ELISA. Blood smears were examined for malaria, and sera were tested for antibodies to Leptospira spp. by ELISA and microscopic agglutination. Among 6,607 febrile patients studied, dengue viruses caused 14.6% of the cases, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus caused 2.5%, Oropouche virus 1.0%, Mayaro virus 0.4%, and other arboviruses caused 0.2% of the cases. Also, 22.9% of 4,844 patients tested were positive for malaria, and of 400 samples tested, 9% had evidence of acute leptospirosis. Although the study was not designed to assess the importance of these pathogens as a cause of human morbidity in the total population, these results indicate that arboviruses, leptospirosis, and malaria were the cause of approximately 50% of the febrile cases. Although the arboviruses that were diagnosed can produce asymptomatic infections, our findings increased the overall understanding of the relative health burden of these infections, as well as baseline knowledge needed for designing and implementing further studies to better assess the health impact and threat of these pathogens in the Amazon Basin of Peru.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1114-1128
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


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