Sentinel feral swine (Sus scrofa) on Ossabaw Island, Georgia (USA), were serologically monitored for antibodies to vesicular stomatitis New Jersey serotype (VSNJ) virus from 17 April to 27 August 1990. Seroconversions to VSNJ virus were detected in 24% of swine island-wide. Differences in the incidence of seroconversion were detected between swine sampled in the Pleistocene and Holocene formations of the island suggesting that the presence of virus is forest type dependent. Based on the consistency in onset and spatial distribution of seroconversions with data from 1981 to 1985, this is a very stable host-parasite system.
Sequential virus isolation attempts from nasal swabs, tonsil swabs, and blood were made on a subsample of 54 sentinel swine from 9 May to 4 July 1990. The VSNJ virus was isolated from five swine from 16 May to 20 June. Vesicular lesions were detected on only two of these animals. Although infections in these feral swine were short-lived (<7 days) and were followed by a strong neutralizing antibody response, VSNJ virus was detected in a single group of swine for a period exceeding 1 month. From these data, it appears that feral swine could provide a source of virus to feeding arthropods for extended periods of time. The failure to detect a viremia in these animals, however, indicates that a source other than blood may be required for transmission to occur.