A screening for anti-West Nile immunoglobulin-G and immunoglobulin-M in the Cameron County Hispanic cohort

Jennifer M Bigbee, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study is designed to be a cross-sectional, retrospective analysis of the seroprevalence of anti-WNV antibodies in 1,006 plasma samples collected from February 2, 2006 to June 18, 2007 originally for The Cameron County Hispanic Cohort: Extreme obesity and uncontrolled diabetes on the U.S.-Mexico border, major concerns for populations with health disparities. The aim of this thesis research is to give a more up-to-date picture of Flavivirus activity in south Texas, which can potentially contribute to the surveillance objective of arboviral control in this area. A West Nile virus (WNV) seroprevalence study in humans in this particular area has never before been completed. Plasma samples were tested using immunoglobulin-G (IgG) and immunoglobulin-M (IgM) WNV enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Estimated seroprevalence for this particular population was 0.98% or 9.8 cases of West Nile disease per 1,000 citizens. After IgG testing, seroprevalence in the study population was found to be 15.4%. Specimens tested for WNV IgG were compared with a subset of specimens (N=803) tested for history of primary dengue virus (DENV) infection. Of the 803 specimens tested for IgG to DENV, 308 were positive. Of the 132 positive WNV IgG specimens in the subset, 131 (99.2%) tested also tested positive for DENV IgG. It would be helpful to use standard plaque reduction neutralization testing to determine if the seroprevalence is in fact lower because of cross-reaction to DENV on testing. Regardless of the possibility of other Flavivirus activity occurring prior to the introduction of WNV into the United States and the potential for cross-reactivity, Texas has ranked in the top 5 states with the highest, laboratory confirmed incidence of infection with WNV since 2003. Indicating that climate factors and the presence of suitable vectors makes Texas a hotspot for WNV activity. A description of the study population by age, gender, and income was done indicating a statistically significant income difference with a mean household income per year being $13,413.55 for a case and $20,268.80 for non-cases (p=0.001). Lower income neighborhoods should be targeted for education and prevention of vector-borne diseases during the summer months in Cameron County. With respect to gender, being male has been noted in the literature to be a risk factor for infection with WNV (25). In this study, females comprised approximately 68% of the study population, they also made up 66.5% of the positive IgG specimens. An odds ratio of 0.91 indicates that women are less likely to be IgG positive for WNV as compared to men; however, this was not found to be significant based on the 95% confidence interval, but is consistent with the literature. When looking at age difference between positive and negative/equivocal cases, there was no statistical difference found between the two groups. We concluded that this study will enable us to understand the epidemiology of WNV transmission since its introduction into the United States and hopefully to maintain or improve the current measures we have in place to prevent infections that are seen annually with WNV.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Bigbee, Jennifer M, "A screening for anti-West Nile immunoglobulin-G and immunoglobulin-M in the Cameron County Hispanic cohort" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1497527.