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Serologic survey of cats and dogs during an epidemic of West Nile virus infection in humans

James C. KileCDC, Epidemic Intelligence Service, 1600 Clifton Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30333.
Present address is USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Landmark Center, Suite 300, 1299 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68102.

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 DVM, MPH, DACVPM
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Nicholas A. PanellaCDC, the National Center for Infectious Diseases, 1300 Rampart Rd, Fort Collins, CO 80521.

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Nicholas KomarCDC, the National Center for Infectious Diseases, 1300 Rampart Rd, Fort Collins, CO 80521.

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Catherine C. ChowCDC, the National Center for Infectious Diseases, 1300 Rampart Rd, Fort Collins, CO 80521.
Present address is Hawaii State Department of Health, 1132 Bishop St, Honolulu, HI 96813.

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Adam MacNeilNational Immunization Program, 1600 Clifton Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30333.
Present address is Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115.

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Brent RobbinsSt Tammany Parish Department of Animal Services, 25026 Hwy 36, Abita Springs, LA 70420.

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Michel L. BunningCDC, the National Center for Infectious Diseases, 1300 Rampart Rd, Fort Collins, CO 80521.
Present address is Air Mobility Command, USAF, 203 W Losey St, Scott Air Force Base, IL 62225.

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Abstract

Objective—To estimate West Nile virus (WNV) infection rates, assess environmental variables that correlated with seropositivity in dogs and cats, and assess whether pets should be considered as possible sentinels for WNV and therefore of potential human exposure.

Design—Cross-sectional serosurvey.

Animals—442 dogs and 138 cats.

Procedure—Serum samples were screened for seropositivity against WNV by use of the plaque reduction neutralization test.

Results—116 (26%) dogs and 13 (9%) cats yielded positive results. The odds of seropositivity against WNV for outdoor-only family dogs were almost 19 times as great as those for indoor-only family dogs and almost twice as great for stray dogs as for family dogs. Family dogs not receiving heartworm medication were 2.5 times as likely to yield positive results for antibodies against WNV as family dogs receiving heartworm medication.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Seropositivity was greater for outdoor family dogs than for indoor family dogs. Further investigation of the potential use of stray dogs as sentinel indicators for WNV infection and the potential risk of human exposure is warranted. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:1349–1353).

Abstract

Objective—To estimate West Nile virus (WNV) infection rates, assess environmental variables that correlated with seropositivity in dogs and cats, and assess whether pets should be considered as possible sentinels for WNV and therefore of potential human exposure.

Design—Cross-sectional serosurvey.

Animals—442 dogs and 138 cats.

Procedure—Serum samples were screened for seropositivity against WNV by use of the plaque reduction neutralization test.

Results—116 (26%) dogs and 13 (9%) cats yielded positive results. The odds of seropositivity against WNV for outdoor-only family dogs were almost 19 times as great as those for indoor-only family dogs and almost twice as great for stray dogs as for family dogs. Family dogs not receiving heartworm medication were 2.5 times as likely to yield positive results for antibodies against WNV as family dogs receiving heartworm medication.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Seropositivity was greater for outdoor family dogs than for indoor family dogs. Further investigation of the potential use of stray dogs as sentinel indicators for WNV infection and the potential risk of human exposure is warranted. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:1349–1353).