Emergence of an African Mosquito-Borne Virus in European birds

Subject: Emergence of an African Mosquito-Borne Virus in European birds
From: Andrew Taylor <>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 13:09:44 +1000 (EST)
Emergence of Usutu virus, an African Mosquito-Borne Flavivirus of the
Japanese Encephalitis Virus Group, Central Europe
Weissenbo"ck et al.

During late summer 2001 in Austria, a series of deaths in several
species of birds occurred, similar to the beginning of the West Nile
virus (WNV) epidemic in the United States. We necropsied the dead birds
and examined them by various methods; pathologic and immunohistologic
investigations suggested a WNV infection. Subsequently, the virus was
isolated, identified, partially sequenced, and subjected to phylogenetic
analysis. The isolates exhibited 97% identity to Usutu virus (USUV),
a mosquito-borne Flavivirus of the Japanese encephalitis virus group;
USUV has never previously been observed outside Africa nor associated
with fatal disease in animals or humans. If established in central
Europe, this virus may have considerable effects on avian populations;
whether USUV has the potential to cause severe human disease is unknown.

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