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Pathogens 2015, 4(3), 529-558; doi:10.3390/pathogens4030529

Experimental West Nile Virus Infection in Rabbits: An Alternative Model for Studying Induction of Disease and Virus Control

1
School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
2
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
3
Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
4
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia
5
Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
6
School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Thomas E. Morrison
Received: 15 May 2015 / Revised: 19 June 2015 / Accepted: 6 July 2015 / Published: 14 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Pathogenesis)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1310 KB, uploaded 14 July 2015]   |  

Abstract

The economic impact of non-lethal human and equine West Nile virus (WNV) disease is substantial, since it is the most common presentation of the infection. Experimental infection with virulent WNV strains in the mouse and hamster models frequently results in severe neural infection and moderate to high mortality, both of which are not representative features of most human and equine infections. We have established a rabbit model for investigating pathogenesis and immune response of non-lethal WNV infection. Two species of rabbits, New Zealand White (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and North American cottontail (Sylvilagus sp.), were experimentally infected with virulent WNV and Murray Valley encephalitis virus strains. Infected rabbits exhibited a consistently resistant phenotype, with evidence of low viremia, minimal-absent neural infection, mild-moderate neuropathology, and the lack of mortality, even though productive virus replication occurred in the draining lymph node. The kinetics of anti-WNV neutralizing antibody response was comparable to that commonly seen in infected horses and humans. This may be explained by the early IFNα/β and/or γ response evident in the draining popliteal lymph node. Given this similarity to the human and equine disease, immunocompetent rabbits are, therefore, a valuable animal model for investigating various aspects of non-lethal WNV infections. View Full-Text
Keywords: West Nile virus; animal models; pathogenesis; rabbit West Nile virus; animal models; pathogenesis; rabbit
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Suen, W.W.; Uddin, M.J.; Wang, W.; Brown, V.; Adney, D.R.; Broad, N.; Prow, N.A.; Bowen, R.A.; Hall, R.A.; Bielefeldt-Ohmann, H. Experimental West Nile Virus Infection in Rabbits: An Alternative Model for Studying Induction of Disease and Virus Control. Pathogens 2015, 4, 529-558.

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