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

Leo A. ThomasUnited 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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Edward R. PatzerUnited 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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Jack C. CoryUnited 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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John E. CoeUnited 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.

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