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First Evidence of Powassan Virus (Flaviviridae) in Ixodes scapularis in Appalachian Virginia, USA

Alexandra N. CumbieVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Blacksburg, Virginia;

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Amanda M. WhitlowVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Blacksburg, Virginia;

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Gillian EastwoodVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Blacksburg, Virginia;
Virginia Tech Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-Borne Pathogens (CeZAP), Blacksburg, Virginia;
Virginia Tech Global Change Center, Blacksburg, Virginia

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ABSTRACT.

Here we report the first detection and confirmation of Powassan virus (POWV) (family: Flaviridae) in Ixodes scapularis ticks collected from Appalachian Virginia. Ixodes scapularis ticks were collected from vegetation across field sites in eight counties of western Virginia from June 2019 to April 2021. From these collections, one nymph and one adult male I. scapularis were determined to be positive for POWV using real-time RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing. Both positive ticks were collected from Floyd county, VA, at residential sites; the nymph in June 2020 and the adult male in April 2021. The presence of POWV in Virginia in its natural tick vector is crucial knowledge in beginning to understand the movement and transmission of this pathogen into new geographical areas and the risk it poses to medical and veterinary health.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Gillian Eastwood, Virginia State University and Polytechnic Institute, 220 Ag Quad Lane, Latham Hall Room 309, Blacksburg, VA 24061. E-mail: geastwood@vt.edu

Financial support: This work was supported in part by The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs through the Tick-Borne Disease Research Award, endorsed by the Department of Defense, through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs under Award No. W81XWH-19-TBDRP-CDA. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense. Initial aspects of the work were supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project VA-160131.

Disclaimer: All authors declare no financial or other support which would constitute a conflict of interest; no financial relationships with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work since its start in 2019. No other relationships or affiliations have influenced the submitted work.

Authors’ addresses: Alexandra Cumbie, Virginia Tech, Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Blacksburg, VA, E-mail: calex26@vt.edu. Amanda Whitlow, Virginia Tech, Department of Entomology, Blacksburg, VA, E-mail: amandamw19@vt.edu. Gillian Eastwood, Virginia Tech, Department of Entomology, Blacksburg, VA, E-mail: geastwood@vt.edu.

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