Evaluation of antigen-capture ELISA and immunohistochemical methods for avian surveillance of West Nile virus

Jennifer A. Godhardt, Kerry Beheler, Michael J. O'Connor, T. J. Whyte, Erik S. Reisdorf, Susan J. Ubl, Philip N. Bochsler, Kathy L. Kurth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Accurate detection of West Nile virus (WNV) in corvids is essential for monitoring the spread of virus during the mosquito season. Viremia in corvids is very high, with titers approaching 108 viral particles/ml. In the presence of such marked viremia, the sensitivity of real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis is unnecessary, and more cost-effective methods should be assessed. To this end, antigen-capture ELISA (ACE) and immunohistochemical (IHC) assays were evaluated. Skin, cloacal swab specimens, and feathers from corvids were tested by use of ACE, and results were compared with results obtained from use of real-time RT-PCR analysis. Of the 3 sample types, skin gave the best sensitivity (98%) and specificity (100%). Skin, brain, kidney, and spleen from corvids were analyzed by IHC, and results were compared with real-time RT-PCR results. Kidney and spleen were more often positive by use of IHC than were brain and skin tissue; however, IHC did not perform as well as ACE in the identification of virus-positive birds. Results of this study support the use of a skin sample in an ACE format as an effective surveillance method for corvids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-89
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Antigen-capture ELISA
  • Corvids
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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