Occurrence of Eptesipox Virus in Big Brown Bats
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The recently described pathogen, Eptesipox virus, was first reported in 2013 based on 6 Big Brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center in Washington state. These individuals suffered from joint swelling and were euthanized after failed treatments. The novel virus was characterized as a poxvirus by researchers associated with the Centers for Disease Control which led to a real-time PCR protocol being developed for detecting the virus. Although Eptesipox is not thought to be pathogenic to humans, it does represent a poorly understood threat to Eptesicus populations. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the occurrence and distribution of this virus, which could encompass the known range of the Big Brown bat. We acquired 36 tissue samples archived in the Angelo State Natural History Collection for testing. We report that the samples are negative for Eptesipox based on PCR when run concurrently with a positive control. This work could suggest that these infections are localized to the Northwestern part of the Eptesicus fuscus range, but additional sampling is desired to develop a stronger argument.