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Can Med Assoc J. 1967 Mar 18;96(11):660-4.

Powassan virus: persistence of virus activity during 1966.


Powassan virus isolations were achieved from three of 60 pools of Ixodes cookei ticks removed from 286 groundhogs (Marmota monax) which were collected some 200 miles north of Toronto between May 5 and September 5, 1966. Virus yields per pool of one to 11 ticks ranged from 10(2.5) to 10(6.0) TCD(50) for primary swine kidney tissue cultures, and positive pools were collected on June 24, July 15 and August 10. Powassan neutralizing antibodies were detected by mouse inoculation tests in 143 of 362 animals including 127 of 286 groundhogs, 14 of 45 red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and two of 31 other forest mammals. The monthly prevalence of antibody in the current season's groundhogs increased from 0 to 25% with the progression of summer, but in older animals the incidence remained between 38 and 62% throughout the season. These results substantiate earlier findings which pointed towards the maintenance of Powassan virus in nature by a cycle involving groundhogs and squirrels as reservoirs, with ticks as vectors, from which human infections occurred tangentially.

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