Background. Of people infected with mosquito-borne West Nile virus (WNV), <1% develop neuroinvasive disease (NID). Population studies suggest that people older than 65 years may be at higher risk for neurologic symptoms. It has been suggested that solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients are also at higher risk for WNV NID, but definitive serologic and epidemiologic data are lacking. Methods. A serologic screening survey, using a US Food & Drug Administration-approved enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay to detect WNV immunoglobulin-G (IgG) antibody responses in cohorts of SOT recipients and non-immunocompromised controls, was undertaken at a large Midwestern university organ transplant center in the aftermath of the summer 2003 WNV regional outbreak. Hemagglutination-inhibition testing was used to confirm WNV IgG-positive results and differentiate them from positive results caused by Saint Louis encephalitis virus, another flavivirus that is endemic in the Midwestern US. Findings. The rate of WNV IgG-seropositive responses did not differ between SOT recipients and non-immunocompromised controls, and were 12% and 10%, respectively. Retrospective chart review showed no documented WNV NID in the seropositive SOT recipients, suggesting an incidence of WNV NID may be as low as 0.7% in this population. Interpretation. Asymptomatic WNV infection is common among immunocompromised SOT patients, occurring as often as it does in non-immunocompromised controls. Our data indicated that severe WNV NID is less frequent in SOT patients, contrary to what has been suggested in other studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-126
Number of pages7
JournalTransplant Infectious Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • IgG
  • Solid organ transplant
  • Transplant
  • West Nile fever
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Infectious Diseases


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