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J Infect Dis. 2005 Jul 15;192(2):287-95. Epub 2005 Jun 13.

Persistent West Nile virus infection in the golden hamster: studies on its mechanism and possible implications for other flavivirus infections.

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Department of Pathology and Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-0609, USA.


Golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) experimentally infected with West Nile virus (WNV) developed chronic renal infection and persistent shedding of virus in urine for up to 8 months, despite initial rapid clearance of virus from blood and the timely appearance of high levels of specific neutralizing antibodies. Infectious WNV could be recovered by direct culture of their urine and by cocultivation of kidney tissue for up to 247 days after initial infection. Only moderate histopathologic changes were observed in the kidneys or brain of the chronically infected hamsters, although WNV antigen was readily detected by immunohistochemistry within epithelium, interstitial cells, and macrophages in the distal renal tubules. Comparison of WNV isolates from serial urine samples from individual hamsters over several months indicated that the virus underwent both genetic and phenotypic changes during persistent infection. These findings are similar to previous reports of persistent infection with tickborne encephalitis and Modoc viruses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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