Integrated human surveillance systems of West Nile virus infections in Italy: the 2012 experience

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Dec 13;10(12):7180-92. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10127180.


In Italy, a West Nile virus (WNV) surveillance plan was firstly implemented in 2008 and 2009 in two affected regions and, since 2010, according to a national plan, a WNV neuroinvasive disease (WNND) surveillance has to be carried out each year during the period 15 June-30 November, in those regions where WNV circulation has been demonstrated among humans, animals or vectors. Moreover, since WNV can be transmitted to humans even by blood transfusions and organ transplants obtained from infected donors, the national surveillance integrates the blood transfusions and organs transplant surveillances too. The paper describes the results of this integrated human surveillance in Italy in 2012. Overall, in 2012, 28 autochthonous confirmed cases of WNND were reported, 14 blood donations were found WNV positive by Nucleic Acid Amplification Test and no solid organ donors tested positive for WNV. Moreover, 17 cases of WNV fever were confirmed in Veneto region. When comparing the number of WNND cases reported to the surveillance system in previous 4 years (43 cases during the period 2008-2011), with those reported in 2012 an important increase was observed in 2012. The geographic distribution of human cases was consistent with the WNV circulation among animals and vectors. Moreover, the implementation of preventive measures for WNV transmission through blood components allowed the detection of blood donors positive for WNV, avoiding the further spread of the disease. Since surveillance strategies and preventive measures are based on the integration among human, animal and vector control activities, the Italian experience could be considered a good example of collaboration among different sectors of public health in a "one health" perspective.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Donors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Seasons
  • Tissue Donors
  • West Nile Fever / epidemiology*
  • West Nile Fever / virology
  • West Nile virus / isolation & purification*