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Volume 24, Number 5—May 2018

Etymologia: Oropouche Virus

Ronnie HenryComments to Author  and Frederck A. Murphy

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Oropouche [oʹro-pooʺche] Virus

In September 1955, a virus was isolated from a 24-year-old forest worker from the community of Vega de Oropouche, near the town of Sangre Grande, on the island of Trinidad (country: Trinidad and Tobago), who presented with fever, backache, and cough, which resolved spontaneously after 3 days. The virus was isolated from the patient’s blood by intracranial inoculation of suckling mice at the Trinidad Regional Virus Laboratory. Five years later, the virus was isolated from Coquillettidia venezuelensis (Theobald) mosquitoes collected ≈ 30 miles away in the Bush Bush Forest. The urban vector was later identified as the midge Culicoides paraensis, but the sylvatic vector remains unknown. Virus has been isolated from the three-toed sloth, which is believed to be involved in the sylvatic transmission cycle.

The virus was shown to be unique but antigenically related to Simbu virus, which had recently been described from South Africa. It therefore became a member of the large family of bunyaviruses.1

The virus, Oropouche virus, named in keeping with the tradition of designating arboviruses by using local geographic names, stems from the name of the village, a nearby swamp (wetland), and river. It derives from an Amerindian word, but the ancient meaning of the word is not clear.

Oropouche virus has since proven to be one of the most common arthropodborne viruses infecting humans in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. Clinical signs of infection include headache, myalgia, arthralgia, and chills; no deaths have been reported. It has been estimated to have infected more than half a million persons in Brazil alone, and there have also been large outbreaks in Panama and Peru. In keeping with the recent emergence of other arboviruses such as West Nile, chikungunya, and Zika viruses, Oropouche virus is a candidate for possible further urban spread and therefore warrants increased surveillance and diagnostics.



  1. Anderson  CR, Spence  L, Downs  WG, Aitken  TH. Oropouche virus: a new human disease agent from Trinidad, West Indies. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1961;10:5748. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Travassos da Rosa  JF, de Souza  WM, Pinheiro  FP, Figueiredo  ML, Cardoso  JF, Acrani  GO, et al. Oropouche virus: clinical, epidemiological, and molecular aspects of a neglected orthobunyavirus. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2017;96:101930.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Virus Taxonomy. V. The Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses. The Online (10th) Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) [cited 2018 Mar 12].


Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2405.et2405

1In 2017, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) reclassified the family Bunyaviridae, elevating the family to an order. The formal taxonomic placement of Oropouche virus is order Bunyavirales; family Peribunyaviridae; genus Orthobunyavirus; species; Oropouche orthobunyavirus.

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Table of Contents – Volume 24, Number 5—May 2018

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Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Ronnie Henry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd NE, Mailstop E03, Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA

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Page created: April 17, 2018
Page updated: April 17, 2018
Page reviewed: April 17, 2018
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.