Emergence of West Nile virus lineage 2 in Europe: Characteristics of the first seven cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease in horses in Austria

Phebe de Heus, Jolanta Kolodziejek, Jeremy V. Camp, Katharina Dimmel, Zoltán Bagó, Zdenek Hubálek, René van den Hoven, Jessika M.V. Cavalleri, Norbert Nowotny*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We report details of the first seven equine cases of confirmed West Nile neuroinvasive disease in Austria. The cases presented during summer and autumn of 2016 (n = 2), 2017 (n = 3) and 2018 (n = 2). All horses showed gait abnormalities and 6 of 7 horses exhibited fasciculations and/or tremors, and we provide video recordings of these. Three horses also showed cranial nerve involvement. Following rapid improvement, three horses were discharged. Four horses were euthanized due to the severity of clinical signs and subjected to neuropathological examination. West Nile virus (WNV) lineage 2 nucleic acid was detected in 5 of 7 horses, and WNV-specific neutralizing antibodies in all 7 horses. In addition, serologic evidence of WNV infection was found in two out of fourteen in-contact horses. Horses may be considered a sentinel species for human WNV infections, integrating human and veterinary medicine and thus contributing to the one health concept.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1197
Number of pages9
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Austria
  • equid
  • flavivirus
  • horse
  • West Nile neuroinvasive disease
  • West Nile virus
  • zoonosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)

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