Detection of Usutu virus within a West Nile virus surveillance program in Northern Italy

CAA Centro Agricoltura Ambiente > Scientific Papers > Entomologia e Zoologia Sanitarie > Detection of Usutu virus within a West Nile virus surveillance program in Northern Italy

Tamba M., P. Bonilauri, R. Bellini M. Calzolari, A. Albieri, V. Sambri, M. Dottori, P. Angelini

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2011 May;11(5):551-7. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2010.0055.

Usutu virus (USUV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus belonging to the Japanese encephalitis serocomplex, recently related to neurological disease in immunosuppressed patients. In the same area of Northern Italy where USUV human cases occurred in 2009, a regional West Nile virus (WNV) surveillance program based on mosquito monitoring and wild birds screening has been implemented since 2008. Mosquito pools and wild birds were tested using three different polymerase chain reactions (Flavivirus, WNV, and USUV). During summer 2009, 56 pools (54 consisting of  pools were, respectively, USUV and WNV positive. Moreover, out of 1218 wild birds tested, 44 were WNV positive, whereas only 11 birds were USUV positive by polymerase chain reaction. Data collected during 2009 prove a cocirculation of USUV and WNV in Northern Italy, but these two viruses show different incidence values in both mosquitoes and birds, suggesting involvement of different animals (other bird species or mammals) in their natural cycles. The cocirculation of WNV and USUV poses a new potential threat to human health in this area. The extent of WNV surveillance to other Flaviviruses will require new diagnostic procedures able to process a large number of samples in a limited period of time and highlights the importance of developing more specific serological tests that could be used in field.


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