West Nile virus infection in horses in Saudi Arabia (in 2013-2015).
West Nile virus (WNV) is an important emerging zoonotic arbovirus giving rise to clinical syndromes of varying severity in humans and horses. Culex mosquitoes are the main vector. Although WNV has been reported in many countries in the Middle East and Asia, little is known about its prevalence in equine populations in the Arabian Peninsula. We have carried out a serological study on 200 horses to assess WNV infection in the Eastern and Central regions of Saudi Arabia in 2013-2015. Sera were tested for the presence of WNV antibodies in parallel using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit and microneutralization (MN) tests. In comparison with the MN assay used as "gold standard," we find the ELISA had a sensitivity of 94.7% and specificity of 80.1%. The prevalence of WNV neutralizing antibody ranged from 5 (17.3%) of 29 sera collected in Riyadh up to 15 (55.6%) of 27 sera collected from Al-Qateef. These findings highlight the need to be aware of the possibility of WNV disease in humans and horses presenting with central nervous system disease in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.