The effects of method of infection and virus dose on the viremia and antibody responses of 1-wk-old chicks and after-hatching-year house finches to infection with western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE) and St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) viruses were studied under laboratory conditions. Using a capillary tube technique, females from 2 strains of Culex tarsalis Coquillett mosquitoes were estimated to expectorate from 1.0 to 1.7 log10 plaque forming units (PFU) of WEE and from 1.9 to 2.2 log10 PFU of SLE. Based on the proportion of parenterally infected females that transmitted and the number that blood fed during each experiment, virus doses per bird were estimated to be 1.0–1.9 log10 PFU for WEE and 1.4–2.3 log10 PFU for SLE. When infected with comparable doses of WEE by subcutaneous inoculation, there was no significant difference in the duration or magnitude of the viremia response between birds infected by mosquito bite or syringe; few birds developed a viremia response after infection with SLE, precluding analysis. In chickens, increasing the syringe dose of WEE from 0.3 to 1.7 log10 PFU/0.1 ml shortened the time when viremia first appeared from 3 to 1 d postinfection and increased the duration of the viremia period from 1 to 3 d, but did not alter the maximum viremia titer. In house finches, increasing the syringe dose of WEE from 2.6 to 3.3 log10 PFU/0.1 ml did not alter markedly the viremia response. Most birds developed antibody detected by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT). In chickens, WEE EIA levels and PRNT titers were higher for birds infected by syringe than by mosquito bite, whereas in house finches the pattern was reversed. For birds infected with SLE, there was overlap among groups infected by mosquito bite or syringe. These results indicate that subcutaneous syringe inoculation provides a biologically sound mode of infection that did not alter viremia and antibody responses when compared with infection by mosquito bite.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2