Screening for Viral Nucleic Acids in the Cerebrospinal Fluid of Dogs With Central Nervous System Inflammation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Central nervous system (CNS) inflammation is a common cause of neurological dysfunction in dogs. Most dogs with CNS inflammation are diagnosed with presumptive autoimmune disease. A smaller number are diagnosed with an infectious etiology. Additionally, at necropsy, a subset of dogs with CNS inflammation do not fit previously described patterns of autoimmune disease and an infectious cause is not readily identifiable. Because viral infection is a common cause of meningoencephalitis in people, we hypothesize that a subset of dogs presented with CNS inflammation have an occult viral infection either as a direct cause of CNS inflammation or a trigger for autoimmunity. The goal of this research was to screen cerebrospinal fluid from a large number dogs with CNS inflammation for occult viral infection. One hundred seventy-two dogs with neurological dysfunction and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pleocytosis were identified. Of these, 42 had meningoencephalitis of unknown origin, six had steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis, one had eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, five had documented infection, 21 had and undetermined diagnosis, and 97 had a diagnosis not consistent with primary inflammatory disease of the CNS (e.g., neoplasia). CSF samples were subsequently screened with broadly reactive PCR for eight viral groups: adenovirus, bunyavirus, coronavirus, enterovirus, flavivirus, herpesvirus, paramyxovirus, and parechovirus. No viral nucleic acids were detected from 168 cases screened for eight viral groups, which does not support occult viral infection as a cause of CNS inflammation in dogs. La Crosse virus (LACV) nucleic acids were detected from four cases in Georgia. Subclinical infection was supported in two of these cases but LACV could not be ruled-out as a cause of infection in the other two cases, suggesting further research is warranted to determine if LACV is an occult cause of CNS inflammation in dogs.

published proceedings

  • Front Vet Sci

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Barber, R. M., Li, Q., Levine, J. M., Ruone, S. J., Levine, G. J., Kenny, P., Tong, S., & Schatzberg, S. J.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Barber, Renee M||Li, Qiang||Levine, Jonathan M||Ruone, Susan J||Levine, Gwendolyn J||Kenny, Patrick||Tong, Suxiang||Schatzberg, Scott J

publication date

  • January 2022