Cache Valley and Potosi viruses (Bunyaviridae) in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus): experimental infections and antibody prevalence in natural populations.

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  • 1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.

Cache Valley virus (CVV) and Potosi virus (POTV) are two closely related mosquito-borne viruses (Bunyaviridae: Bunyamwera group) that appear to circulate in several regions of the United States, especially the Midwest. We determined the prevalence of specific neutralizing antibodies to both viruses in Indiana white-tailed deer and conducted infection experiments to assess whether deer could serve as an vertebrate-amplifying host. Cross-infection experiments also were carried out to investigate the level of antibody cross-reactivity and cross-protection between the two viruses. The seroprevalence rate was high for both CVV (> 66%) and POTV (> 43%) in adult deer statewide. Antibodies neutralizing CVV were more common among deer harvested in the northern part of Indiana whereas the prevalence of POTV antibodies suggested a more southern distribution for this virus. Experimental infections of captive deer showed that they may serve as amplifying hosts for either virus. Deer infected with CVV or POTV developed a 1-3-day viremia with 3.0 and 4.1 log10 plaque-forming units/ml mean peak titers, respectively. However, significant levels of antibody cross-reactivity between the two viruses were observed. Viremia was lower and shorter when animals immune to either CVV or POTV were cross-infected with the alternate virus and antibody responses following cross-infections resembled original antigenic sin with higher titers of antibodies against the primary agent.