Experimental Milk-Borne Transmission of Powassan Virus in the Goat

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  • Division of Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York 12201
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A lactating goat with a 74-day-old kid was inoculated with 103 mouse 50% lethal dose (LD50) of Powassan virus. No ensuing viremia could be detected, but virus was secreted in the milk on postinoculation days 7 through 15, with a titer of 105 LD50/ml on day 12. Neutralizing antibody was found in the serum on days 22 through 36 and in the milk on day 36. The offspring was not inoculated but was allowed to continue feeding on its mother's milk. It developed neutralizing antibody by day 22. Since the kid was past the age when it could resorb antibody from the milk, its serum antibody was evidence of active infection. Neither animal showed any clinical sign of illness. A serum survey of 499 goats in New York State showed that 9 had neutralizing antibodies to Powassan virus. These immune goats came from widely scattered localities, including counties where human cases have been confirmed. The findings suggest the possibility of milk-borne transmission of Powassan virus from goat to man.

Author Notes

Present address: San Juan Laboratories, Bureau of Laboratories, Center for Disease Control, GPO Box 4532, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00936.