West Nile disease (WND) has become a major public and veterinary health concern since the appearance of West Nile virus (WNV) in New York in 1999. The following panzootic spread in the U.S. and the recent WNV outbreaks in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin have increased interest in WND. Despite considerable investigation of WNV infection in birds, the effects of WNV on avian populations are still largely unknown. In Europe, raptors have been found to be particularly susceptible to WNV infection, but studies in birds of prey are lacking. To our knowledge, the present study is the first to report an experimental infection with WNV in Gyr-Saker hybrid falcons. We show that 10-week-old captive-reared Gyr-Saker (Falco rusticolusxFalco cherrug) hybrid falcons are susceptible to WNV infection. Neither morbidity nor mortality was observed after subcutaneous WNV inoculation with mixed extracts of non-infected mosquito salivary glands. Both the macroscopic and microscopic lesions observed were similar to those previously reported in naturally and experimentally infected North American raptors. The results obtained in the present study demonstrate that although Gyr-Saker hybrid falcons do not seem to be a good reservoir for WNV transmission via mosquito, they can become infected with WNV, develop viremia and antibodies, and are able to shed the virus. © Copyright 2012, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
- West Nile virus