Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan, USA, occupy the southern periphery of the species’ range and are vulnerable to climate change. In the eastern UP, hares are isolated by the Great Lakes, potentially exacerbating exposure to climate-change–induced habitat alterations. Climate change is also measurably affecting distribution and prevalence of vector-borne pathogens in North America, and increases in disease occurrence and prevalence can be one signal of climate-stressed wildlife populations. We conducted a serosurvey for vector-borne pathogens in snowshoe hares that were captured in the Hiawatha National Forest in the eastern UP of Michigan, USA, 2016–2017. The most commonly detected antibody response was to the mosquito-borne California serogroup snowshoe hare virus (SSHV). Overall, 24 (51%) hares screened positive for SSHV antibodies and of these, 23 (96%) were confirmed positive by plaque reduction neutralization test. We found a positive association between seroprevalence of SSHV and live weight of snowshoe hares. Additionally, we detected a significant effect of ecological land type group on seroprevalence of SSHV, with strong positive support for a group representing areas that tend to support high numbers of hares (i.e., acidic mineral containing soils with cedar, mixed swamp conifers, tamarack and balsam fir as common overstory vegetation). We also detected and confirmed antibodies for Jamestown Canyon virus and Silverwater virus in a single hare each. We did not detect antibodies to other zoonotic vector-borne pathogens, including Lacrosse encephalitis virus, West Nile virus, Borrelia burgdorferi, Powassan virus, and Francisella tularensis. These results provide a baseline for future serological studies of vector-transmitted diseases that may increase climate vulnerability of snowshoe hares in the UP of Michigan, as well as pose a climate-related zoonotic risk.

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