Calzolari M, Angelini P, Bolzoni L, Bonilauri P, Cagarelli R, Canziani S, Cereda D, Cerioli MP, Chiari M, Galletti G, Moirano G, Tamba M, Torri D, Trogu T, Albieri A, Bellini R and Lelli D
Front. Vet. Sci. 7:243. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.00243
With several human cases reported annually since 2008 and the unapparent risk of infection of blood donors, the West Nile virus (WNV) is emerging as an important health issue in Europe. Italy, as well as other European countries, experienced a recrudescence of the virus circulation in 2018, which led to an increased number of human cases. An integrated surveillance plan was activated in the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy regions (Northern Italy) since 2008 in order to monitor the intensity and timing of WNV circulation. A fundamental part of this plan consists in entomological surveillance. In 2018, the surveillance plan made it possible to collect 385,293 mosquitoes in 163 stations in the two Regions. In total 269,147 Culex mosquitoes were grouped into 2,337 pools and tested for WNV, which was detected in 232 pools. Circulation started in the central part of the Emilia-Romagna region in the middle of June, about one month before the previous seasons. Circulation suddenly expanded to the rest of the region and reached the Lombardy region in the middle of July. WNV circulated more intensively in the eastern part of the surveyed area, as confirmed by the highest number of human cases. A relationship between the number of mosquitoes collected and the virus incidence emerged, but the data obtained highlighted that the probability of detecting the virus in a given site was less than expected with a higher number of collected mosquitoes. A significant relationship was observed between the temperature recorded one week before the sampling and the number of collected mosquitoes, as well as between the estimated number of WNV-positive mosquitoes and the temperature recorded two weeks before the sampling. The two weeks delay in the influence of temperature on the positive mosquitoes is in line with the time of the virus extrinsic incubation in the mosquito. This finding confirms that temperature is one of the principal drivers in WNV mosquito infection. The surveillance system demonstrated the ability to detect the virus circulation early, particularly in areas where circulation was more intense. This allowed evaluating the effect of mosquito abundance and weather factors on virus circulation.