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Differential virulence of West Nile strains for American crows


Crow deaths were observed after West Nile virus (WNV) was introduced into North America, and this phenomenon has subsequently been used to monitor the spread of the virus. To investigate potential differences in the crow virulence of different WNV strains, American Crows were inoculated with Old World strains of WNV from Kenya and Australia (Kunjin) and a North American (NY99) WNV genotype. Infection of crows with NY99 genotype resulted in high serum viremia levels and death; the Kenyan and Kunjin genotypes elicited low viremia levels and minimal deaths but resulted in the generation of neutralizing antibodies capable of providing 100% protection from infection with the NY99 strain. These results suggest that genetic alterations in NY99 WNV are responsible for the crow-virulent phenotype and that increased replication of this strain in crows could spread WNV in North America.

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