West Nile virus (WNV) infection was diagnosed in captive juvenile chukars (Alectoris chukar), and captive juvenile Impeyan pheasants (Lophophorus impeyanus) on the basis of necropsy, histopathology, polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemistry. The chukars were kept in a game bird farm that experienced two outbreaks with approximately 25% mortality in hundreds of chukars between September and October 2002 and during the same months in 2003. The submitted pheasants were part of a group of 15 juvenile Impeyan pheasants that all died within approximately 2 wk at the end of August 2002. The macroscopic lesions in the pheasants were dominated by mucosal hemorrhage at the proventricular to ventricular junction and cecal ulcers, whereas the gross lesions in the chukar partridges were nonspecific. The predominant microscopic lesion in the chukar partridges was myocardial necrosis, whereas fibrinous and necrotizing splenitis was prominent in the pheasants. Viral antigen was usually widespread in animals of both species. Spontaneously occurring WNV infection should be considered a differential diagnosis in cases of mortality among select species of galliform birds.
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Vol. 50 • No. 3