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      Pathology and tissue tropism of natural West Nile virus infection in birds: a review

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      Veterinary Research

      BioMed Central

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          Abstract

          West Nile virus (WNV) is a globally distributed arthropod-borne flavivirus capable of infecting a wide variety of vertebrates, with birds as its natural reservoir. Although it had been considered a pathogen of little importance for birds, from the 1990’s, and especially after its introduction in the North American continent in 1999, thousands of birds have succumbed to West Nile infection. This review summarizes the pathogenesis and pathology of WNV infection in birds highlighting differences in lesion and antigen distribution and severity among bird orders and families. Despite significant species differences in susceptibility to infection, WNV associated lesions and viral antigen are present in the majority of organs of infected birds. The non-progressive, acute or more prolonged course of the disease accounts for part of the differences in lesion and viral antigen distribution and lesion severity. Most likely a combination of host variables and environmental factors in addition to the intrinsic virulence and pathogenicity of the infecting WNV strain influence the pathogenesis of the infection.

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          Most cited references 121

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          Origin of the West Nile virus responsible for an outbreak of encephalitis in the northeastern United States.

          In late summer 1999, an outbreak of human encephalitis occurred in the northeastern United States that was concurrent with extensive mortality in crows (Corvus species) as well as the deaths of several exotic birds at a zoological park in the same area. Complete genome sequencing of a flavivirus isolated from the brain of a dead Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), together with partial sequence analysis of envelope glycoprotein (E-glycoprotein) genes amplified from several other species including mosquitoes and two fatal human cases, revealed that West Nile (WN) virus circulated in natural transmission cycles and was responsible for the human disease. Antigenic mapping with E-glycoprotein-specific monoclonal antibodies and E-glycoprotein phylogenetic analysis confirmed these viruses as WN. This North American WN virus was most closely related to a WN virus isolated from a dead goose in Israel in 1998.
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            The outbreak of West Nile virus infection in the New York City area in 1999.

            In late August 1999, an unusual cluster of cases of meningoencephalitis associated with muscle weakness was reported to the New York City Department of Health. The initial epidemiologic and environmental investigations suggested an arboviral cause. Active surveillance was implemented to identify patients hospitalized with viral encephalitis and meningitis. Cerebrospinal fluid, serum, and tissue specimens from patients with suspected cases underwent serologic and viral testing for evidence of arboviral infection. Outbreak surveillance identified 59 patients who were hospitalized with West Nile virus infection in the New York City area during August and September of 1999. The median age of these patients was 71 years (range, 5 to 95). The overall attack rate of clinical West Nile virus infection was at least 6.5 cases per million population, and it increased sharply with age. Most of the patients (63 percent) had clinical signs of encephalitis; seven patients died (12 percent). Muscle weakness was documented in 27 percent of the patients and flaccid paralysis in 10 percent; in all of the latter, nerve conduction studies indicated an axonal polyneuropathy in 14 percent. An age of 75 years or older was an independent risk factor for death (relative risk adjusted for the presence or absence of diabetes mellitus, 8.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 59.1), as was the presence of diabetes mellitus (age-adjusted relative risk, 5.1; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.5 to 17.3). This outbreak of West Nile meningoencephalitis in the New York City metropolitan area represents the first time this virus has been detected in the Western Hemisphere. Given the subsequent rapid spread of the virus, physicians along the eastern seaboard of the United States should consider West Nile virus infection in the differential diagnosis of encephalitis and viral meningitis during the summer months, especially in older patients and in those with muscle weakness.
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              Toll-like receptor 3 mediates West Nile virus entry into the brain causing lethal encephalitis.

              West Nile virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne single-stranded (ss)RNA flavivirus, causes human disease of variable severity. We investigated the involvement of Toll-like receptor (Tlr) 3, which recognizes viral double-stranded (ds)RNA, on WNV infection. Tlr3-deficient (Tlr3(-/-)) mice were more resistant to lethal WNV infection and had impaired cytokine production and enhanced viral load in the periphery, whereas in the brain, viral load, inflammatory responses and neuropathology were reduced compared to wild-type mice. Peripheral WNV infection led to a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and enhanced brain infection in wild-type but not in Tlr3(-/-) mice, although both groups were equally susceptible upon intracerebroventricular administration of the virus. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha receptor 1 signaling is vital for blood-brain barrier compromise upon Tlr3 stimulation by dsRNA or WNV. Collectively, WNV infection leads to a Tlr3-dependent inflammatory response, which is involved in brain penetration of the virus and neuronal injury.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Vet Res
                Vet. Res
                Veterinary Research
                BioMed Central
                0928-4249
                1297-9716
                2013
                3 June 2013
                : 44
                : 1
                : 39
                Affiliations
                [1 ]SaBio Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC, (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM) Ronda de Toledo s/n, Ciudad Real 13005, Spain
                Article
                1297-9716-44-39
                10.1186/1297-9716-44-39
                3686667
                23731695
                Copyright ©2013 Gamino and Höfle; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review

                Veterinary medicine

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