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Natural Bagaza virus infection in game birds in southern Spain

Virginia Gamino1, Ana-Valeria Gutiérrez-Guzmán1, Isabel G Fernández-de-Mera12, José-Antonio Ortíz3, Mauricio Durán-Martín1, José de la Fuente1, Christian Gortázar1 and Ursula Höfle1*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC, (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13071, Ciudad Real, Spain

2 Centro Vigilancia Sanitaria Veterinaria (VISAVET), Departamento de Sanidad Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

3 Medianilla S.l, Benalup, Cádiz, Spain

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Veterinary Research 2012, 43:65  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-65

Published: 11 September 2012


In late summer 2010 a mosquito born flavivirus not previously reported in Europe called Bagaza virus (BAGV) caused high mortality in red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) and ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus). We studied clinical findings, lesions and viral antigen distribution in naturally BAGV infected game birds in order to understand the apparently higher impact on red-legged partridges. The disease induced neurologic signs in the two galliform species and, to a lesser extent, in common wood pigeons (Columba palumbus). In red-legged partridges infection by BAGV caused severe haemosiderosis in the liver and spleen that was absent in pheasants and less evident in common wood pigeons. Also, BAGV antigen was present in vascular endothelium in multiple organs in red-legged partridges, and in the spleen in common wood pigeons, while in ring-necked pheasants it was only detected in neurons and glial cells in the brain. These findings indicate tropism of BAGV for endothelial cells and a severe haemolytic process in red-legged partridges in addition to the central nervous lesions that were found in all three species.