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Possible overwintering of West Nile virus in Italy in 2009

F. Monaco, G. Savini, P. Calistri, A. Polci, C. Pinoni, R. Bruno, R. Lelli

DISEASE outbreaks due to West Nile virus (WNV) resulted in clinical signs and death in horses and people in northern Italy in 2008. WNV reoccurred in Italy in 2009 – this study reports the results of WNV surveillance in 2009 and compares them with those from 2008.

Based on viral circulation detected during 2008, three different epidemiological areas were studied: WNV circulation zone; surveillance zone (20 km around the circulation zone); and areas at risk (14 wetlands characterised by a significant number of water fowl, including species of migratory birds). Samples were obtained from all neurological cases in horses, and from sentinel horses in the surveillance and risk areas during May, August and September. Regular testing of sentinel chickens and backyard poultry flocks was also implemented. Ten stables in the circulation zone and three in the surveillance zone were selected for mosquito trapping every two weeks, while in the risk areas, mosquitoes were caught once a month. Samples were tested for evidence of WNV. The genome of a WNV isolate was sequenced.

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