The distribution of orthopoxviruses (OPXVs) across the North American continent is suggested to be widespread in a wide range of mammalian hosts on the basis of serosurveillance studies. To address the question of whether carnivores in northwestern Mexico are exposed to naturally circulating OPXVs, wild carnivores were collected by live trapping within four different habitat types during fall of 2013 and spring of 2014 within the Janos Biosphere Reserve in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico. A total of 51 blood samples was collected for testing. Anti-OPXV immunoglobulin G enzymelinked immunosorbent assay, western blot, and rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT) assays were conducted. About 47% (24/51) of the carnivores tested were seropositive for anti-OPXV binding antibodies and had presence of immunodominant bands indicative of OPXV infection. All samples tested were negative for rabies virus neutralizing antibodies by RFFIT, suggesting that the OPXV antibodies were due to circulating OPXV, and not from exposure to oral rabies vaccine (vacciniavectored rabies glycoprotein vaccine) bait distributed along the US–Mexico border. Our results indicated that there may be one or more endemic OPXV circulating within six species of carnivores in northwestern Mexico.
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Vol. 55 • No. 3