The prevalence of woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) in wild populations of woodchucks is understudied and therefore unclear. Although infection is common in the southeastern region of Pennsylvania and surrounding states, it is virtually absent in New York and New England. Sera were collected from wild woodchucks from Orange County, North Carolina and tested for the presence of markers of current or previous infection with WHV. Of the 24 woodchucks tested, there were three animals (12.5%) with WHV surface antigen as well as antibodies to woodchuck hepatitis core antigen in their serum, indicative of active infection. There were four (17%) animals with antibodies to WHV core antigen but no woodchuck hepatitis surface antigen, indicative of prior infections. The remaining 17 animals had no detectable markers of WHV infection. These data indicate that WHV is present in central North Carolina at rates approaching those seen in endemic areas, such as the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2