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Ocular Lesions in Red-Tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) With Naturally Acquired West Nile Disease
- Wünschmann, A., Armién, A. G., Khatri, M., Martinez, L. C., Willette, M., Glaser, A., Alvarez, J., Redig, P.
- Buteo jamaicensis, West Nile fever, West Nile virus, animal pathology, antigens, atrophy, caspase-3, histopathology, immunohistochemistry, inflammation, necropsy, necrosis, neurons, retina
- Ocular lesions are common in red-tailed hawks with West Nile (WN) disease. These lesions consist of pectenitis, choroidal or retinal inflammation, or retinal necrosis, but detailed investigation of the ocular lesions is lacking. Postmortem examination of the eyes of 16 red-tailed hawks with naturally acquired WN disease and 3 red-tailed hawks without WN disease was performed using histopathology, immunohistochemistry for West Nile virus (WNV) antigen, glial fibrillary acid protein, cleaved caspase-3, and the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling method. Retinal lesions were classified as type I or type II lesions. Type I lesions were characterized by lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates in the subjacent choroid with degeneration limited to the outer retina (type Ia lesion) or with degeneration and necrosis of the outer retina or outer and inner retina (type Ib lesion) while retinal collapse, atrophy, and scarring were hallmarks of type II lesions. Type II retinal lesions were associated with a more pronounced choroiditis. Although not statistically significant, WNV antigen tended to be present in larger quantity in type Ib lesions. Type I lesions are considered acute while type II lesions are chronic. The development of retinal lesions was associated with the presence of an inflammatory infiltrate in the choroid. A breakdown of the blood-retina barrier is suspected to be the main route of infection of the retina. Within the retina, virus appeared to spread via both neuronal and Müller cell processes.