Detection of imported exotic strains of West Nile virus for national biosecurity surveillance. (2009–2012)
West Nile virus (WNV) causes fatal encephalitis in man and animals and represents a serious biosecurity threat to the Nation. However WNV is antigenically similar to the benign Australian virus Kunjin, and these viruses cross-react in serological tests. Therefore more accurate methods to diagnose infections with exotic, virulent WNV in Australia are required. Our observations that antibody is produced to two minor viral antigens during equine infections with WNV but not with Kunjin, provides the basis for a novel diagnostic strategy. We will assess recombinant forms of these antigens as specific markers of exotic WNV infections using rapid diagnostic platforms.