After-hatching and hatching year, mourning doves were infected by inoculation with either western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE) or St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) viruses; some birds in each group also were treated with the immunosuppressant cyclophosphamide before and during infection. Cyclophosphamide treatment significantly increased the WEE viremia but did not alter the antibody response. In contrast, cyclophosphamide-treated and -untreated doves did not develop a detectable SLE viremia but became antibody positive. Antibody peaked at 10 wk after inoculation for both viruses and remained detectable in most birds throughout the 26-wk study. When treated with cyclophosphamide the following spring, birds did not relapse and develop a detectable viremia. Previously infected birds were protected when challenged with conspecific virus (i.e., none produced a detectable viremia), but there was no anamnestic antibody response to reinfection. In agreement with our failure to detect relapses, all birds were negative for viral RNA when sera, spleen, lung, and kidney tissues were tested by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction after necropsy. Our results indicated that adult mourning doves were an incompetent host for SLE virus and probably do not serve as a suitable overwintering or dispersal host for either WEE and SLE viruses.
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