Adult house sparrows (Passer domesticus) were captured and experimentally inoculated with St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus to produce high concentrations of circulating antiviral antibody. Nestlings, 5–7 and 14–16 days of age, from SLE immune adult females and challenged with SLE virus, exhibited viremic enhancement by producing viremias of greater duration and magnitude than did controls. Nestlings possessing maternal antibody and challenged with SLE virus between 8 and 13 days of age did not produce viremias differing significantly from controls in magnitude, duration, or temporal appearance. Experimental nestling sparrows possessed detectable amounts of maternally derived passive antibody to SLE virus prior to challenge with this virus. Passive geometric mean antibody titers ranged from a high of 1:34.5 in nestlings tested 5–7 days posthatching, to a low of 1:11.2 in 14–16-day-old birds. Results presented imply that enhancement of SLE virus infections could lead to increased viral amplification and dissemination rates during natural disease cycles.
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