Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) were inoculated with a sublethal dose of a field strain of Modoc virus to determine patterns of viral persistence, shedding, and transmission. Blood, serum, urine, fecal, and oral swab samples were collected at selected intervals until 63 days postinoculation (PI) after which lung, liver, spleen, kidney, and salivary glands were explanted. Viral assays were conducted by intracranial inoculations of suckling mice and antibody titers were determined by the micro-complement-fixation test. Viremias lasted for up to 4 days PI. Antibody titers were present by day 8 PI, peaked at day 13–20 PI, and persisted until day 63 PI. There was no evidence of viral shedding in urine, fecal, or oral swab samples. Virus was detected in explanted lungs only. In a separate experiment, deer mice were inoculated with virus and lungs were removed from five mice per wk for 10 wk. Indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) techniques were used to determine the location of virus in lung tissue and to examine fixed tissue for lesions. IFA showed virus in lung parenchymal cells beginning 42 days PI and persisting at least 70 days PI. No histopathologic changes were seen. Horizontal transmission of the virus was studied by placing uninoculated mice with inoculated mice for 42 days and determining if the test animals developed antibodies or had virus in their lungs. Fifty-percent of the uninoculated mice developed antibody. One of these animals had virus in its lungs. Therefore, Modoc virus may be transmitted by direct contact.
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