Introduction. The interactions between viruses and the host immune system involve a complex series of events which often lead to activation of the immune response and clearance of the infectious agent. Alternatively, viruses can adversely affect the immune system resulting in chronic or persistent infections or immunopathology. The majority of information regarding viral infection and the host response to such infections has been obtained from laboratory animal models. Although these laboratory models have been very useful in helping us understand many virus-host interactions, they do have some limitations which natural animal models may overcome. The present review will attempt to focus on a few isolated animal models not often considered, as well as to review the most recent information regarding some viral diseases of domestic animals previously recognized as useful (Table 1). Using these models, we hope to focus on questions pertinent to how viruses may evade the immune response, resulting in viral persistence and immunopathology or cause immunosuppression, and demonstrate the value of these natural animal models in aiding the elucidation of virus-host interactions. In each of the instances attempts will be made at demonstrating the usefulness of these models for comparative studies.


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