Serologic Evidence of Jamestown Canyon and Keystone Virus Infection in Vertebrates of the Delmarva Peninsula

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  • Division of Virology and Medicine, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland 21701

Abstract. Serological data accumulated during the past decade indicated that a variety of feral and domestic animals of the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia (DelMarVa) Peninsula were infected with Jamestown Canyon (JC) and/or Keystone (KEY) viruses (Bunyaviridae, California serogroup). Neutralizing (N) antibody to JC virus was most prevalent in white-tailed deer, sika deer, cottontail rabbits and horses. KEY virus N antibody was detected most frequently in gray squirrels and domestic goats. N antibody indicative of past infection by one or both viruses also was found in raccoons, horses and humans. JC and/or KEY virus N antibodies were not demonstrable in sera of several other species of small mammals and reptiles. Investigations were extended to evaluate the role of domestic goats as an amplifying host of JC and KEY viruses and to assess their potential as sentinels of virus transmission. Goats maintained in the Pocomoke Cypress Swamp during the summer season of 1978, acquired N antibodies to JC and KEY viruses. Following experimental inoculation with either JC or KEY virus, all goats developed N antibody despite the absence of a demonstrable viremia in most animals. Goats proved to be effective as sentinels for monitoring the transmission of JC and KEY viruses; however, the exceptionally low titers or absence of viremia following inoculation with these viruses would seem to preclude a potential virus-amplifying role for this species. Although findings implicated primarily gray squirrels and white-tailed deer as possible amplifying hosts of KEY and JC virus, respectively, further investigations will be required to clarify their role, particularly since both viruses may be maintained entirely by transovarial transmission.