Further circulation of West Nile and Usutu viruses in wild birds in Italy

Infect Genet Evol. 2015 Jun;32:292-7. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2015.03.024. Epub 2015 Mar 27.


Usutu virus (USUV) and West Nile virus (WNV) are emerging pathogens that can cause neurological disease in humans. From March 2012 to June 2013, a sero-survey on wild birds was carried out to investigate the circulation of both viruses in Northwest (NW) Italy. Samples belonging to 47 different bird species have been collected using a volunteer based network and a wildlife rehabilitation center. Four of 297 serum samples had neutralizing antibodies against USUV (P=1.34%, IC 95% 0.36-3.4), while 10 of 233 samples tested positive for WNV (P=4.29%, IC 95% 2.07-7.75). Neutralizing antibodies for WNV were significantly more prevalent (p<0.001) in trans-Saharan migrants (P=21%, IC 95% 9.55-37.3) than in resident and short-distance birds, but no migratory habit-related differences were found for USUV. Antibodies in resident bird species suggest that both viruses are circulating in NW Italy.

Keywords: Italy; Migratory birds; Serology; USUV; WNV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Northern
  • Animal Migration
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / virology*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Birds / virology*
  • Encephalitis Viruses, Japanese / isolation & purification*
  • Italy
  • West Nile Fever / veterinary*
  • West Nile virus / isolation & purification*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral