Seven virus strains antigenically related to the California encephalitis (CE) virus group were isolated from Norwegian Aedes spp. mosquitoes collected in 1976. So far CE viruses have been isolated from five different Aedes spp. in Norway. Furthermore, two virus strains related to the Bunyamwera group were isolated from Anopheles claviger.
Antibodies to CE viruses were demonstrated in 22% of 1014 military recruits tested. Among 91 soldiers who were monitored by monthly blood samples during the mosquito season, seroconversions were detected in 11 individuals. Specific IgM antibodies were found in seven of them. Disease symptoms in connexion with the CE virus infections were not seen. The prevalence of CE antibodies in patients with CNS or respiratory infections was not higher than in control groups. Seroconversions were not seen in any of the groups.
Screening of sheep sera from six different areas in northern Norway indicated significantly different degrees of CE virus activity. Passerine birds may be important CE virus hosts, while small rodents seem unimportant. Specific IgM antibodies were detected in the sera of one of three hares and one of two squirrels.
Of the methods used, single radial haemolysis (SRH) and immuno-electroosmophoresis (IEOP) seemed to be well suited for serological screenings. However, an indirect immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) which was used may be an attractive alternative if high-quality anti-species conjugates are available. The haemagglutination-inhibition (HI) test used gave a high number of false positive results.