Mass bird mortality has been observed in North America after the introduction of West Nile virus (WNV), most notably massive die-offs of American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). In contrast, WNV epidemic activity in Europe has been characterized by very low incidences of bird mortality. As the general susceptibility of European corvids to strains of WNV remains in question, European jackdaws (Corvus monedula) were inoculated with WNV strains circulating currently in Greece (Greece-10), Italy (FIN and Ita09) and Hungary (578/10), as well as a North American (NY99) genotype with a demonstrated corvid virulence phenotype. Infection with all strains except WNV-FIN resulted in mortality. Viraemia was observed for birds inoculated with all strains and virus was detected in a series of organs upon necropsy. These results suggested that jackdaws could potentially function as a sentinel for following WNV transmission in Europe; however, elicited viraemia levels might be too low to allow for efficient transmission of virus to mosquitoes.
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