SEROLOGIC EVIDENCE OF WEST NILE VIRUS EXPOSURE IN NORTH AMERICAN MESOPREDATORS

KEVIN T. BENTLER National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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JEFFREY S. HALL National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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J. JEFFREY ROOT National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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KACI KLENK National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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BRANDON SCHMIT National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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BRADLEY F. BLACKWELL National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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PAUL C. RAMEY National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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LARRY CLARK National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services, Fort Collins, Colorado; National Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Service, Sandusky, Ohio; School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

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Sera from 936 mammalian mesopredators (Virginia opossums, gray foxes, striped skunks, hooded skunks, raccoons, a bobcat, and a red fox) were collected during 2003 and 2004 in California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, and Wyoming and screened for flavivirus-specific antibodies by an epitope-blocking enzyme-linked immunosobent assay (blocking ELISA). Serum samples positive for antibodies against flaviviruses were screened for West Nile virus (WNV)–specific antibodies by blocking ELISA and selectively confirmed with plaque-reduction neutralization tests. High prevalence rates were observed in raccoons (45.6%) and striped skunks (62.9%). The high WNV antibody prevalence noted in mesopredators, their peridomestic tendencies, and their overall pervasiveness make these species potentially useful sentinels for monitoring flaviviruses in defined areas.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Larry Clark, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521.
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