West Nile virus (WNV) has caused outbreaks and sporadic infections in Central, Eastern and Mediterranean Europe for over 45 years. Most strains responsible for the European and Mediterranean basin outbreaks are classified as lineage 1. In recent years, WNV strains belonging to lineage 1 and 2 have been causing outbreaks of neuroinvasive disease in humans in countries such as Italy, Hungary and Greece, while mass mortality among birds was not reported. This study characterizes three European strains of WNV isolated in Italy (FIN and Ita09) and Hungary (578/10) in terms of in vitro replication kinetics on neuroblastoma cells, LD50 values in C57BL/6 mice, median day mortality, cumulative mortality, concentration of virus in the brain and spinal cord, and the response to infection in the brain. Overall, the results indicate that strains circulating in Europe belonging to both lineage 1 and 2 are highly virulent and that Ita09 and 578/10 are more neurovirulent compared to the FIN strain.

doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074575, hdl.handle.net/1765/68477
Department of Neuroscience

Lim, S.M, Koraka, P, van Boheemen, S, Roose, J.M, Jaarsma, D, van de Vijver, D.A.M.C, … Martina, B.E.E. (2013). Characterization of the Mouse Neuroinvasiveness of Selected European Strains of West Nile Virus. PLoS ONE, 8(9). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074575