Abstract: West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne viral pathogen of global importance and is considered to be the most widespread flavivirus in the World. Horses, as dead-end hosts, can be infected by bridge mosquito vectors and undergo either subclinical infections or develop severe neurological diseases. The aim of this study was to detect WNV specific antibodies in horses in Germany as an indicator for an endemic circulation of WNV. Sera from more than 5,000 horses (primarily fallen stock animals) were collected in eight different federal states of Germany from 2010 to 2012. Sera were screened by a competitive ELISA and positive reactions were verified by an indirect IgM ELISA and/or by virus neutralization tests (VNT) for WNV and Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in order to exclude cross-reacting antibody reactions. In essence WNV specific antibodies could not be detected in any of the horse sera. Not surprisingly, a small number of sera contained antibodies against TBEV. It is noteworthy that equine sera were often collected from horse carcasses and therefore were of poor quality. Nonetheless, these sera were still suitable for WNV ELISA testing, i.e., they did not produce a high background reaction which is a frequently observed phenomenon. According to these data there is no evidence for indigenous WNV infections in horses in Germany at present.
Keywords: West Nile virus; neutralization; ELISA; serology; horses; Germany; tick-borne encephalitis virus; flavivirus
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Ziegler, U.; Angenvoort, J.; Klaus, C.; Nagel-Kohl, U.; Sauerwald, C.; Thalheim, S.; Horner, S.; Braun, B.; Kenklies, S.; Tyczka, J.; Keller, M.; Groschup, M.H. Use of Competition ELISA for Monitoring of West Nile Virus Infections in Horses in Germany. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 3112-3120.
Ziegler U, Angenvoort J, Klaus C, Nagel-Kohl U, Sauerwald C, Thalheim S, Horner S, Braun B, Kenklies S, Tyczka J, Keller M, Groschup MH. Use of Competition ELISA for Monitoring of West Nile Virus Infections in Horses in Germany. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2013; 10(8):3112-3120.
Ziegler, Ute; Angenvoort, Joke; Klaus, Christine; Nagel-Kohl, Uschi; Sauerwald, Claudia; Thalheim, Sabine; Horner, Steffen; Braun, Bettina; Kenklies, Susanne; Tyczka, Judith; Keller, Markus; Groschup, Martin H. 2013. "Use of Competition ELISA for Monitoring of West Nile Virus Infections in Horses in Germany." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 10, no. 8: 3112-3120.