Volume 97, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



West Nile virus (WNV) is an important emerging flavivirus in North America. Experimental studies in animals infer the development of persistent infection in the kidneys. In humans, recent studies suggest the possibility of persistent renal infection and chronic kidney disease. Considering the discrepancies between published studies on viral RNA detection in urine of convalescing WNV-positive patients, we explored the use of electron microscopy (EM) with anti-WNV E protein antibody immunogold labeling to detect virus in the urine sediment from a subset of study participants in the Houston WNV cohort. In 42% of evaluated study participants had visible sediment present in urine after centrifugation; viral particles consistent with the size and morphology of WNV were successfully detected using EM in the urine sediment up to 9 years postinfection. The anti-WNV immunogold labeling bound to virus envelope in the sediment allowed for enhanced detection when compared with PCR and provide a new technique for understanding kidney disease in WNV patients. These results provide further evidence of persistent infection in at least a subset of individuals infected with WNV. These findings present a novel tool to diagnose persistent WNV infection and its possible link with progressive renal pathology.


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  • Received : 23 May 2017
  • Accepted : 19 Jun 2017

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