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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2012 Dec;87(6):1140-4. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0257. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Detection of eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus RNA in North American snakes.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. abingha1@health.usf.edu

Abstract

The role of non-avian vertebrates in the ecology of eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus (EEEV) is unresolved, but mounting evidence supports a potential role for snakes in the EEEV transmission cycle, especially as over-wintering hosts. To determine rates of exposure and infection, we examined serum samples from wild snakes at a focus of EEEV in Alabama for viral RNA using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Two species of vipers, the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), were found to be positive for EEEV RNA using this assay. Prevalence of EEEV RNA was more frequent in seropositive snakes than seronegative snakes. Positivity for the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in cottonmouths peaked in April and September. Body size and sex ratios were not significantly different between infected and uninfected snakes. These results support the hypothesis that snakes are involved in the ecology of EEEV in North America, possibly as over-wintering hosts for the virus.

PMID:
23033405
PMCID:
PMC3516089
DOI:
10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0257
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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