Experimental La Crosse Virus Infection of Red Fox (Vulpes fulva), Raccoon (Procyon Lotor), Opossum (Didelphis Virginiana), and Woodchuck (Marmota Monax)

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  • Department of Veterinary Science, School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
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Susceptibility to infection, resulting viremia and antibody responses, and potential to provide infectious blood meals for Aedes triseriatus were determined and compared for the red fox (Vulpes fulva), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and opossum (Didelphis virginiana) exposed to La Crosse (LAC) virus transmitted by mosquitoes, Ae. triseriatus. Woodchucks (Marmota monax) were infected with LAC virus by needle and syringe. All 5 red foxes became viremic following the bite of a single LAC virus-infected female Ae. triseriatus. Maximum viremia titers were at or above the threshold of infection for Ae. triseriatus in 4 of 5 red foxes for 1–3 days. Biological transmission of LAC virus from infected red foxes to chipmunks (Tamias striatus) was accomplished by Ae. triseriatus. Neutralizing antibody titers in red foxes peaked between day 13 and 27 and were still detectable 3 months post-infection. Woodchucks appear to be efficient amplifiers of LAC virus. Three of 4 inoculated woodchucks became viremic. Maximum viremia titers were consistently above the experimentally determined threshold of infection for Ae. triseriatus. Raccoons and opossums were not as susceptible to LAC virus infection as were red foxes or woodchucks. Only 1 of 5 raccoons became viremic. The viremia titer was low and was detected on only 1 day. Four of 5 raccoons developed LAC virus-neutralizing antibody titers, however. None of the opossums became viremic and only 2 developed LAC virus-neutralizing antibody titers.