Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2009
Publication Date: 1/1/2010
Citation: Trujilo, C.M., Rodriguez, L.L., Rodas, J.D., Arboleda, J.J. 2010. Experimental infection of Didelphis marsupialis with Vesicular Stomatitis New Jersey Virus. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 46(1):209-217. Interpretive Summary: Although Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) is endemic in the Americas, many aspects of its epidemiology remain unknown. The disease, which effects domestic cattle, horses, swine has also been observed in wildlife species. To date, a natural reservoir for the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus New Jersey serotype (VSVNJ) has not been identified in wildlife species, but neutralizing antibodies have been detected in numerous wildlife species. In this study, we challenged five Virginia opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) with VSVNJ to determine if opossums could be a natural reservoir for the virus, and thus could maintain VSVNJ outside of domestic populations. Serological testing showed all opossums were negative for the presence of antibodies to VSVNJ and VSIV prior to inoculation. The animals, which were inoculated with VSVNJ began to display lesions or clinical signs at 48 hr. post inoculation (pi). Blood, fecal and mucosal samples, as well as post-mortem tissue samples were collected and tested for the presence of virus. Virus was only found in mucosal samples and in active vesicular lesions, but never in the blood of infected animals. The results of this experiment demonstrate the susceptibility of the opossum to VSVNJ and indicate that the Virginia opossum could be part of the VS natural cycle.
Technical Abstract: Although vesicular stomatitis has been present for many years in the Americas, many aspects of its natural history remain undefined. In this study we challenged five adult Virginia opossums (Didelphis marsupialis) with vesicular stomatitis New Jersey serotype virus (VSNJV). Opossums had no detectable antibodies against VSV-NJ prior to being inoculated with 106.5 median tissue culture infective doses (TCID50) of VSV-NJ by two routes; Intraepithelial/Subepithelial (IE/SE) inoculation and scarification in the muzzle (SM). Clinical response was monitored daily and animals were tested for viral shedding. All infected animals developed vesicles and ulcers on the tongue, and inflammation of the nasal alar folds. Virus was isolated from esophagus-pharynx, nasal, and ocular swabs and lesions samples. The failure to detect viremia in these animals indicates that a source other than blood may be required for transmission to insect vectors. Our results suggest that D. marsupialis could play a role in the maintenance of VSV-NJ outside of domestic animal populations and could provide a model to study VSV pathogenesis.