The disappearance of an endemic focus of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus, Ossabaw Island, GA
Killmaster, Lindsay Fann
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Ossabaw Island, Georgia is the only known endemic focus of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus, New Jersey (VSNJV) in the United States. Decades of data indicate that VSNJV activity on the island may be declining. To investigate this decline, samples collected from 1291 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and 593 feral pigs (Sus scrofa) from 1990-2007, were tested for exposure to VSNJV. Results showed that all animals were negative for VSNJV antibodies from 2005 to the present. Attempts to isolate virus from the biological vector, sand flies (Lutzomyia shannoni), yielded no VSNJV isolates. Analysis of 56 blood fed sand flies showed a decrease in bloodmeals taken from feral swine from 16% to 3%, while bloodmeals taken from deer remained stable (81% and 86%) when compared to previous estimates. Evidence points to a drop in the feral pig population, a potential amplifying host, as the most likely cause of the disappearance of this endemic focus.