Vesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus (VSNJV) is an insect-transmitted Rhabdovirus causing vesicular disease in domestic livestock including cattle, horses, and pigs. Natural transmission during epidemics remains poorly understood, particularly in cattle, one of the most affected species during outbreaks. This study reports the first successful transmission of VSNJV to cattle by insect bite resulting in clinical disease. When infected black flies (Simulium vittatum Zetterstedt) fed at sites where VS lesions are usually observed (mouth, nostrils, and foot coronary band), infection occurred, characterized by local viral replication, vesicular lesions, and high neutralizing antibody titers (>1: 256). Viral RNA was detected up to 9 d postinfection in tissues collected during necropsy from lesion sites and lymph nodes draining those sites. Interestingly, when flies were allowed to feed on flank or neck skin, viral replication was poor, lesions were not observed, and low levels of neutralizing antibodies (range, 1:8–1:32) developed. Viremia was never observed in any of the animals and infectious virus was not recovered from tissues on necropsies performed between 8 and 27 d postinfection. Demonstration that VSNJV transmission to cattle by infected black flies can result in clinical disease contributes to a better understanding of the epidemiology and potential prevention and control methods for this important disease.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4