Objective—To assess ophthalmologic features and ocular lesions in red-tailed hawks and Cooper's hawks naturally infected with West Nile virus (WNV).
Procedures—All hawks underwent complete ophthalmic examinations including slit lamp biomicroscopy and binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy. Eleven hawks were euthanized because of a grave prognosis; complete necropsies were performed. Eyes, brain, heart, and kidneys were processed for histologic and immunohistochemical examinations. Pooled tissue homogenates and aqueous humor samples were assessed for WNV nucleic acid via PCR assay, and anti-WNV antibody titers in aqueous humor and plasma were determined.
Results—All birds had similar funduscopic abnormalities including exudative chorioretinal lesions and chorioretinal scarring in a geographic or linear pattern. Eleven birds were euthanized, and 2 birds were released. Plasma from both released hawks and plasma and aqueous humor of all euthanized hawks that were evaluated contained anti-WNV antibodies. Except for 1 hawk, all euthanized hawks had WNV-associated disease (determined via detection of WNV antigen or nucleic acid in at least 1 organ). Histopathologic ocular abnormalities, most commonly pectenitis, were detected in all euthanized birds; several birds had segmental choroiditis, often with corresponding segmental retinal atrophy. West Nile virus antigen was detected in the retinas of 9 of the euthanized birds. In 2 hawks, WNV antigen was detected in the retina only.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that funduscopically detectable chorioretinal lesions appear to be associated with WNV disease in hawks. Detection of ocular lesions may aid in antemortem or postmortem diagnosis of this condition.
OBJECTIVE To compare antibody responses of horses naturally infected with West Nile virus (WNV) and those vaccinated against WNV, to identify whether vaccination interferes with the ability to diagnose WNV infection, and to determine the duration of antibody responses after vaccination.
SAMPLE Sera from horses naturally infected with WNV (n = 10) and adult WNV-naïve horses before and after vaccination with a live canarypox virus–vectored vaccine (7) or a killed virus vaccine (8).
PROCEDURES An established WNV IgM capture ELISA was used to measure IgM responses. Newly developed capture ELISAs were used to measure responses of 8 other WNV-specific immunoglobulin isotypes. A serum neutralization assay was used to determine anti-WNV antibody titers.
RESULTS WNV-specific IgM responses were typically detected in the sera of WNV-infected horses but not in sera of horses vaccinated against WNV. Natural infection with and vaccination against WNV induced an immunoglobulin response that was primarily composed of IgG1. West Nile virus–specific IgG1 was detected in the sera of most horses 14 days after vaccination. Serum anti-WNV IgG1 and neutralizing antibody responses induced by the killed-virus vaccines were higher and lasted longer than did those induced by the live canarypox virus–vectored vaccine.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE On the basis of these findings, we recommend that horses be vaccinated against WNV annually near the beginning of mosquito season, that both IgM and IgG1 responses against WNV be measured to distinguish between natural infection and vaccination, and that a WNV IgG1 ELISA be used to monitor anti-WNV antibodies titers in vaccinated horses.
Objective—To determine the prevalence of infectious diseases of animal and zoonotic importance in cats and dogs rescued and transferred from the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.
Animals—414 dogs and 56 cats rescued and transferred from the Gulf Coast region within 4 months after the hurricane.
Procedures—EDTA-anticoagulated blood and serum samples were tested via PCR and serologic assays for infectious diseases.
Results—In dogs, prevalence was highest for anti-West Nile virus (WNV) antibodies (218/390 [55.9%]), Dirofilaria immitis antigen (195/400 [48.8%]), anti-Toxoplasma gondii antibodies (92/366 [25.1%]), and hemotropic mycoplasma DNA (40/345 [11.9%]). The DNA of Bartonella spp, Ehrlichia spp, or Babesia spp or anti-canine influenza virus antibodies were identified in < 2% of dogs. In cats, prevalence was highest for antibodies against Bartonella spp and DNA of Bartonella spp combined (49/55 [89.1 %]), anti–T gondii antibodies (13/55 [23.6%]), hemotropic mycoplasma DNA (5/47 [10.6%]), anti-WNV antibodies (5/48 [10.4%]), D immitis antigen (4/50 [8.0%]), and anti–FIV antibodies (4/56 [7.1%]). A total of 308 (74.4%) dogs and 52 (92.9%) cats had evidence of previous or current vector-borne infections.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cats and dogs rescued from the disaster region had evidence of multiple infectious diseases. The dispersal of potentially infectious animals to other regions of North America where some infections were not typically found could have contributed to new geographic ranges for these organisms or to underdiagnosis in affected animals because of a low index of suspicion in regions with low disease prevalence.