U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Arch Virol (2013) 158:735–752; DOI 10.1007/s00705-012-1516-3


Exposures to West Nile virus (WNV) have been documented in a variety of wild mammals in both the New and Old Worlds. This review tabulates at least 100 mammal species with evidence of WNV exposure. Many of these exposures were detected in free-ranging mammals, while several were noted in captive individuals. In addition to exposures, this review discusses experimental infections in terms of the potential for reservoir competence of select wild mammal species. Overall, few experimental infections have been conducted on wild mammals. As such, the role of most wild mammals as potential amplifying hosts for WNV is, to date, uncertain. In most instances, experimental infections of wild mammals with WNV have resulted in no or low-level viremia. Some recent studies have indicated that certain species of tree squirrels (Sciurus spp.), eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus), and eastern cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) develop viremia sufficient for infecting some mosquito species. Certain mammalian species, such as tree squirrels, mesopredators, and deer have been suggested as useful species for WNV surveillance. In this review article, the information pertaining to wild mammal associations with WNV is synthesized.