The authors investigated an outbreak of West Nile Fever characterized by severe neurological symptoms and death in a flock of 3600 6-week-old geese. Ataxia, intermittent torticollis and opisthotonus, incoordination, rhythmic side-to-side movement of the head, wriggling of the neck and abnormal head position were features of the disease. Death occurred within 4 to 5 days after the clinical signs appeared. The average daily mortality was 5 to 15, reaching 14% (in total) over a period of 6 weeks. There were no consistent gross pathological lesions, but in a few cases yellowish-grey foci of 3 to 6 mm in diameter were observed on the surface or transection of the brain. Histopathology revealed perivascular lymphohistiocytic infiltration and glia cell proliferation in the brainstem, cerebellum, cortex and spinal cord as well as degeneration of neural fibres in the spinal cord. In addition to the lesions caused by the West Nile Virus in the brain, characteristics of circovirus infection such as lymphocyte depletion, vacuolization and basophilic intra-cytoplasmic inclusion bodies containing circovirus-like particles were seen by light and electron microscopy in the cloacal bursa. West Nile Virus infection was confirmed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction amplification of virus-specific nucleic acid from tissue samples of the brain. Based on the nucleotide sequence analysis of the polymerase chain reaction products, 99% identity was found on the tested NS5 region with the IS-98 ST1 strain isolated from a stork in Israel in 1998, and with West Nile Virus stains emerging in the USA in 1999. Using an indirect fluorescent antibody test, high antibody titres against the virus were detected in the serum samples submitted from the affected flock. In selected sera this was confirmed by neutralization antibody test as well.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Animals
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)