Experimental infection of common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) with West Nile Virus

Amir Steinman, Caroline Banet-Noach, Lubov Simanov, Nurit Grinfeld, Zachi Aizenberg, Ohad Levi, Dan Lahav, Mertyn Malkinson, Shimon Perk, Nahum Y. Shpigel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The role of various reptilian species in the infectious cycle of several arboviruses is documented, but their role in that of West Nile virus (WNV) is uncertain. Common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) were infected subcutaneously with 105 plaque forming units (PFU) WNV-Isr 98, five of nine snakes became viremic, and five exhibited persistent low levels of neutralizing antibodies. Four of the parentally infected snakes died and high titers of virus were found in multiple organ samples. In contrast, orally infected garter snakes did not become viremic, but viral RNA was detected in cloacal swabs. Since oral infection of predator birds by WNV is known, their ingestion of infected snakes may also result in their becoming infected.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Common garter snake
  • Thamnophis sirtalis
  • West Nile virus


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