Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Veterinary Research and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Review

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

Virginia Gamino and Ursula Höfle*

Author Affiliations

SaBio Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC, (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM) Ronda de Toledo s/n, Ciudad Real 13005, Spain

For all author emails, please log on.

Veterinary Research 2013, 44:39  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-44-39

Published: 3 June 2013


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.