From 1981 through 1989, serum samples from 855 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from Ossabaw Island, Georgia (USA), were tested for antibodies to bluetongue virus (BTV) and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV). During this period, prevalence of precipitating antibodies to BTV and EHDV as determined by agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) tests decreased from 74% to 3% and from 34% to 1%, respectively. Antibodies were detected in serum samples from 0.5-yr-old deer only during 1981, 1982, and 1983, and with few exceptions, positive serological results after 1983 were restricted to older age classes. A decrease in prevalence of precipitating antibodies to BTV and EHDV in age classes exposed during 1981 indicates that AGID results from white-tailed deer populations underestimate the extent of previous exposure to these viruses. Serum neutralization test results from AGID-positive deer indicated that BTV 11 was the principal serotype responsible for infections during 1981. Since 1983, this serotype has been replaced by BTV 13; however, there has been a low level of transmission within the herd. Infection with EHDV 2 appeared most prevalent during 1982; as with BTV 13, there has been limited transmission in this high density deer population since 1983.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4