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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2006 Aug;75(2):337-45.

Enhanced early West Nile virus infection in young chickens infected by mosquito bite: effect of viral dose.

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  • 1Arbovirus Laboratories, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Slingerlands, New York 12159, USA.


Mosquito transmission of arboviruses potentially affects the course of viral infection in the vertebrate host. Studies were performed to determine if viral infection differed in chickens infected with West Nile virus (WNV) by mosquito bite or needle inoculation. Mosquito-infected chickens exhibited levels of viremia and viral shedding that were up to 1,000 times higher at 6, 12, and 24 hours post-feeding (PF) compared with those inoculated with 10(3) PFU by needle. Follow-up studies were conducted to determine if enhanced early infection was due to a higher viral dose inoculated by mosquitoes. Needle inoculation with successively higher doses of WNV led to higher early viremia and viral shedding; a dose >or= 10(4) PFU by needle was required to attain the high early viremia observed in mosquito-infected chickens. Mosquitoes inoculated WNV at this level as estimated by feeding on a hanging drop of blood (mean: 10(2.5), range: 10(0.7)-10(4.6) PFU). These results indicate that enhanced early infection in mosquito-infected chickens may be explained by higher viral dose delivered by mosquitoes. On the other hand, chickens infected by multiple mosquitoes (N = 3-11) had viremic titers that were 25-50 times higher at 6 and 12 hours PF than in chickens infected by a single mosquito, suggesting that viral dose is not the only factor involved in enhanced early infection. The likelihood that enhanced early infection in mosquito-infected chickens is due to a higher viral dose inoculated by mosquitoes and/or other factors (saliva, inoculation location, or viral source) is discussed.

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