Archives of Virology

, Volume 158, Issue 4, pp 735–752 | Cite as

West Nile virus associations in wild mammals: a synthesis

  • J. Jeffrey RootEmail author
Brief Review


Exposures to West Nile virus (WNV) have been documented in a variety of wild mammals in both the New and Old Worlds. This review tabulates at least 100 mammal species with evidence of WNV exposure. Many of these exposures were detected in free-ranging mammals, while several were noted in captive individuals. In addition to exposures, this review discusses experimental infections in terms of the potential for reservoir competence of select wild mammal species. Overall, few experimental infections have been conducted on wild mammals. As such, the role of most wild mammals as potential amplifying hosts for WNV is, to date, uncertain. In most instances, experimental infections of wild mammals with WNV have resulted in no or low-level viremia. Some recent studies have indicated that certain species of tree squirrels (Sciurus spp.), eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus), and eastern cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) develop viremia sufficient for infecting some mosquito species. Certain mammalian species, such as tree squirrels, mesopredators, and deer have been suggested as useful species for WNV surveillance. In this review article, the information pertaining to wild mammal associations with WNV is synthesized.


West Nile Virus West Nile Virus Infection Wild Mammal Tree Squirrel Eastern Chipmunk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank K. Bentler and R. McLean for excellent reviews of an earlier version of this manuscript, and A. Lavelle for assistance in obtaining literature. The opinions and conclusions of this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US Department of AgricultureNational Wildlife Research CenterFort CollinsUSA

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