FOX SQUIRREL (SCIURUS NIGER) ASSOCIATIONS WITH WEST NILE VIRUS

J. JEFFREY ROOT United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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PAUL T. OESTERLE United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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HEATHER J. SULLIVAN United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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JEFFREY S. HALL United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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NICOLE L. MARLENEE United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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ROBERT G. MCLEAN United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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JOHN A. MONTENIERI United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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LARRY CLARK United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado; Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Tree squirrels (Sciurus spp.) have been recently shown to be commonly exposed to West Nile virus (WNV). Many characteristics of WNV infections in tree squirrels are unknown. To better understand WNV associations in fox squirrels (S. niger), we conducted mark-recapture sampling (N = 72) and radio telemetry to study the longitudinal seroprevalence, seroconversions, and ectoparasites of these animals during 2005–2006 in northern Colorado. Five seroconversions were documented during this study. The majority of seroconversions occurred during the late summer/fall months. However, one seroconversion was documented over the time period of February to late March 2005. Fleas (Orchopeas howardi) were tested for WNV RNA using real-time PCR techniques. No WNV RNA positive fleas (N = 33) were detected. In addition, urine samples (N = 17) opportunistically collected from fox squirrels were negative for WNV RNA. Results indicate that seroconversions can be observed in fox squirrels during low WNV transmission years.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Dr. Jeff Root, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 La Porte Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80521. Telephone: 970-266-6050, Fax: 970-266-6138, E-mail: jeff.root@aphis.usda.gov.
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