JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, N.I.H., EXTRAMURAL
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus infection of cotton rats.

Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is an emerging pathogen of equids and humans, but infection of its rodent reservoir hosts has received little study. To determine whether responses to infection vary among geographic populations, we inoculated 3 populations of cotton rats with 2 enzootic VEEV strains (Co97-0054 [enzootic ID subtype] and 68U201 [enzootic IE subtype]). The 3 populations were offspring from wild-caught cotton rats collected in a VEE-enzootic area of south Florida, USA; wild-caught cotton rats from a non-VEE-enzootic area of Texas, USA; and commercially available (Harlan) colony-reared cotton rats from a non-VEE-enzootic region. Although each population had similar early viremia titers, no detectable disease developed in the VEE-sympatric Florida animals, but severe disease and death affected the Texas and Harlan animals. Our findings suggest that the geographic origins of cotton rats are important determinants of the outcome of VEE infection and reservoir potential of these rodents.

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