Pathology and immunohistochemical findings of west nile virus infection in psittaciformes

C. Palmieri, M. Franca, Francisco A Uzal, Mark L Anderson, B. Barr, Leslie Woods, J. Moore, P. Woolcock, H L Shivaprasad

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27 Scopus citations


West Nile virus (WNV) infection was diagnosed in 38 psittacine birds based on histology, immunohistochemistry, and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Rosellas (Platycercus spp, n = 13), conures (Enicognathus, Aratinga, and Nandayus spp, n = 6), and lorikeets (Trichoglossus spp, n = 6) represented the most commonly affected species. Clinical signs ranged from lethargy, ruffled feathers, anorexia, and weight loss in most birds to sudden death in others. Except for mild to moderate enlargement of liver and spleen, there were no significant gross lesions at necropsy. Histopathologic findings included lymphoplasmacytic and histiocytic hepatitis, interstitial nephritis, myocarditis, splenitis, enteritis, pancreatitis, and occasionally, encephalitis. Viral antigen was detected by immunohistochemistry in 34 of 35 hearts (97.1%), 29 of 32 pancreata (90.6%), 33 of 37 kidneys (89.2%), 31 of 35 intestines (88.6%), 27 of 33 gizzards (81.8%), 8 of 10 ovaries (80%), 27 of 34 spleens (79.4%), 30 of 38 livers (78.9%), 23 of 32 lungs (71.9%), 21 of 31 proventriculi (67.7%), 14 of 21 adrenals (66.7%), 10 of 16 testes (62.5%), 17 of 30 brains (56.7%), 15 of 27 skins (55.5%), 3 of 6 oviducts (50%), 15 of 34 skeletal muscles (44.1%), 11 of 27 crop or esophagus (40.7%), and 1 of 6 thymuses (16.7%). Kidney was positive for WNV by RT-PCR in all the cases tested. In conclusion, Psittaciformes are susceptible to West Nile virus infection, and WNV infections are often associated with nonspecific clinical signs and widespread viral distribution in this order of birds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-984
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • immunohistochemistry
  • pathology
  • Psittaciformes
  • reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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