Authors:Orsolya Kutasi, Orsolya Fehér, Sára Sárdi, Nándor Balogh, Anna Nagy, Leticia Moravszki, Emese Bódai and Ottó Szenci
West Nile virus (WNV) is a zoonotic arbovirus transmitted by mosquitoes between wild birds (natural hosts) and other vertebrates. Horses and humans are incidental, dead-end hosts, but can develop severe neurological disorders. Owing to the close contact of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with the extracellular fluid of the brain, the analysis of CSF composition can reflect central nervous system (CNS) impairments enabling the diagnosis and understanding of various neurodegenerative CNS disorders. Our objective was to compare the findings from the CSF samples of horses with neuroinvasive WNV infection with those of healthy controls. We compared findings from fifteen CSF samples of 13 horses with acute WNV encephalomyelitis with those of 20 healthy controls. Protein, particular enzymes and ions, glucose and lactate showed abnormal levels in a significant number of WNV cases. None of the six horses with elevated glucose concentrations survived. Rather neutrophilic than mononuclear pleocytosis was identified with WNV infection. Neutrophils probably play a role in the development of inflammatory response and brain damage. Although elevated glucose levels reliably predicted the outcome, they might be the consequence of increased plasma levels and reflect general stress rather than CNS pathophysiology. The CSF findings of WNV encephalomyelitis patients are non-specific and variable but facilitate the differential diagnosis.