Experimental West Nile Virus infection in hybrid falcons

For the first time, researchers of the CReSA have reported an experimental infection with West Nile Virus (WNV) in Gyr-Saker hybrid falcons and have demonstrated that can become infected with WNV.

West Nile disease (WND) has become a major public and veterinary health concern since the appearance of WNV in New York in 1999. The following panzootic spread in the U.S. and the recent WNV outbreaks in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin have increased interest in WND. Despite considerable investigation of WNV infection in birds, the effects of WNV on avian populations are still largely unknown. In Europe, raptors have been found to be particularly susceptible to WNV infection, but studies in birds of prey are lacking.

To our knowledge, the present study is the first to report an experimental infection with WNV in Gyr-Saker hybrid falcons. We showed that 10-week-old captive-reared Gyr-Saker (Falco rusticolus x Falco cherrug) hybrid falcons are susceptible to WNV infection. Neither morbidity nor mortality was observed after subcutaneous WNV inoculation with mixed extracts of non-infected mosquito salivary glands. Both the macroscopic and microscopic lesions observed were similar to those previously reported in naturally and experimentally infected North American raptors.

The results obtained in the present study demonstrate that although Gyr-Saker hybrid falcons do not seem to be a good reservoir for WNV transmission via mosquito, they can become infected with WNV, develop viremia and antibodies, and are able to shed the virus.

This study has been funded by the NADIR project (Network of Animal Disease Infectiology Research Facilities).

This work has been recently published in: Busquets N, Bertran K, Costa TP, Rivas R, de la Fuente JG, Villalba R, Solanes D, Bensaid A, Majó N, Pagès N. Experimental West Nile Virus Infection in Gyr-Saker Hybrid Falcons. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2012 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]

To contact the author of this paper:

Dr  Nuria Busquets Martí
Researcher of the Arboviruses and arthropod vectors research line of the CReSA.
Email: nuria.busquets@cresa.uab.cat
Telephone no.: +34 93 581 4342
Fax: +34 93 581 44 90
Edifici CReSA. Campus UAB
08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona) Spain

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