Antibody Development in Garter Snakes (Thamnophis Spp.) Experimentally Infected with Western Equine Encephalitis Virus

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  • United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratory, Hamilton, Montana 59840
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Garter snakes (Thamnophis spp.) have been considered to possibly play an important role in the ecology of western equine encephalitis (WEE) virus. Serological tests (hemagglutination-inhibition, complement-fixation, neutralization test in mice, and plaque neutralization) to detect antibody in these reptiles following laboratory exposure to this virus have, in our experience, been unsatisfactory. A new test, the snake globulin precipitation (SGP) test, has been developed and we consider it to be reliable in detecting antibody in WEE virus-infected garter snakes. Antibody has been detected in these snakes over 4.5 years following inoculation with WEE virus. The SGP test should be a valuable tool in obtaining further information regarding the possible role of these cold-blooded vertebrates in the ecology of this important arbovirus.