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Seroprevalence of Powassan Virus in New England Deer, 1979–2010

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  • University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Center for Vector Biology and Zoonotic Diseases, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut; Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado; Vermont Department of Public Health, Burlington, Vermont; Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Vector-borne Disease Laboratory, South Portland, Maine

Powassan virus and its subtype, deer tick virus, are closely related tick-borne flaviviruses that circulate in North America. The incidence of human infection by these agents appears to have increased in recent years. To define exposure patterns among white-tailed deer, potentially useful sentinels that are frequently parasitized by ticks, we screened serum samples collected during 1979–2010 in Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont for neutralizing antibody by using a novel recombinant deer tick virus–West Nile virus chimeric virus. Evidence of exposure was detected in all three states. Overall our results demonstrate that seroprevalence is variable in time and space, suggesting that risk of exposure to Powassan virus is similarly variable.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Gregory D. Ebel, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 1690 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523. E-mail: gregory.ebel@colostate.edu

Financial support: This study was supported in part by funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institutes of Health, under grant AI067380. Eleanor R. Deardorff was supported by Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award K12GM088021 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences under the University of New Mexico Academic Science Education and Research Training fellowship.

Authors' addresses: Robert A. Nofchissey, Department of Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, E-mail: rnofchissey@salud.unm.edu. Eleanor R. Deardorff, Department of Pathology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM, and Department of Experimental Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, E-mail: edeardorff@salud.unm.edu. Tia M. Blevins and Louis A. Magnarelli, Department of Entomology, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, CT, E-mails: tia.blevins@ct.gov and louis.magnarelli@ct.gov. Michael Anishchenko, Angela Bosco-Lauth, John-Paul Mutebi, and Aaron C. Brault, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, CO, E-mails: iot5@cdc.gov, mopargal@rams.colostate.edu, john-paul.mutebi@cdc.hhs.gov, and acbrault1@mac.com. Erica Berl, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Vermont Department of Health, Burlington, VT, E-mail: erica.berl@state.vt.us. Charles Lubelczyk, Vector-Borne Disease Laboratory, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, South Portland, ME, E-mail: lubelc@mmc.org. Gregory D. Ebel, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, E-mail: gregory.ebel@colostate.edu.

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