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San Fedele Superiore, Italy

Fortuna C.,Unit of Viral Diseases and Attenuated Vaccine | Remoli M.E.,Unit of Viral Diseases and Attenuated Vaccine | Severini F.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health | Di Luca M.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health | And 6 more authors.
Medical and Veterinary Entomology | Year: 2015

West Nile virus (WNV) is a zoonotic arboviral pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes in a cycle that involves wild birds as reservoir hosts. The virus is responsible for outbreaks of viral encephalitis in humans and horses. In Europe, Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae) is considered to be the main vector of WNV, but other species such as Stegomyia albopicta (=Aedes albopictus) (Diptera: Culicidae) may also act as competent vectors of this virus. Since 2008 human cases of WNV disease have been reported in northeast Italy. In 2011, new areas of southern Italy became involved and a first outbreak of WNV lineage 1 occurred on the island of Sardinia. On the assumption that a potential involvement of St. albopicta in WNV transmission cannot be excluded, and in order to evaluate the competence of this species for the virus, an experimental infection of an St. albopicta laboratory colony, established from mosquitoes collected in Sardinia, was carried out. The results were compared with those obtained in a colony of the main vector Cx. pipiens. The study showed St. albopicta collected on Sardinia to be susceptible to WNV infection, which suggests this Italian mosquito species is able to act as a possible secondary vector, particularly in urban areas where the species reaches high levels of seasonal abundance. © 2015 The Royal Entomological Society. Source

Fortuna C.,Unit of Viral Diseases and Attenuated Vaccine | Remoli M.E.,Unit of Viral Diseases and Attenuated Vaccine | Di Luca M.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health | Severini F.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health | And 8 more authors.
Parasites and Vectors | Year: 2015

Background: West Nile virus (WNV) is a vector-borne disease responsible for causing epidemics in many areas of the world. The virus is maintained in nature by an enzootic bird-mosquito-bird cycle and occasionally transmitted to other hosts, such as equines and humans. Culex species, in particular the ubiquitous species Culex pipiens is thought to play a major vector role both in enzootic and epizootic maintenance and transmission of WNV. Introduced in Europe in recent years, since 2008 WNV has been stably circulating mainly in the Northeastern regions of Italy, although sporadic equine and/or human cases, as well as WNV infected Cx. pipiens pools, have been recorded in other Italian areas. The scope of our study was to evaluate the potential competence of some Italian populations of Cx. pipiens to transmit WNV and to assess their ability for vertical transmission of the virus. For this purpose four Italian populations, from different areas, were experimentally infected. Methods: After the infectious blood meal, fed females were monitored for 32 days to determine the length of viral extrinsic incubation period. WNV titre of infected mosquitoes was evaluated both by quantitative Real Time PCR and viral titration by Plaque Forming Units/ml (PFU/mL) in VERO cells. Potential Infection, Dissemination, Transmission rates (IR, DR, TR) were assessed by detection of the virus in body, legs plus wings and saliva of the fed females, respectively. Results: All tested populations were susceptible to the WNV infection. The viral presence in legs and wings demonstrated the ability of WNV to disseminate in the mosquitoes. Viral RNA was detected in the saliva of tested populations. No significant differences in TR values were observed among the four studied populations. The offspring of the Cx. pipiens infected females were WNV negative. Conclusions: Our study addressed an important issue in the knowledge on the complex WNV-vector relationships in Italy, indicating that all Italian Cx. pipiens populations tested exhibited vector competence for WNV. Further studies should be performed in order to better clarify the role of other factors (vector density, climatic conditions, reservoir presence etc.) in order to predict where and when WNV outbreaks could occur. © 2015 Fortuna et al. Source

Remoli M.E.,Unit of Viral Diseases and Attenuated Vaccine | Bongiorno G.,Parasitic and Immune mediated Diseases | Fortuna C.,Unit of Viral Diseases and Attenuated Vaccine | Marchi A.,Unit of Viral Diseases and Attenuated Vaccine | And 4 more authors.
Parasites and Vectors | Year: 2015

Background: Several viruses have been recently isolated from Mediterranean phlebotomine sand flies; some are known to cause human disease while some are new to science. To monitor the Phlebotomus-borne viruses spreading, field studies are in progress using different sand fly collection and storage methods. Two main sampling techniques consist of CDC light traps, an attraction method allowing collection of live insects in which the virus is presumed to be fairly preserved, and sticky traps, an interception method suitable to collect dead specimens in high numbers, with a risk for virus viability or integrity. Sand flies storage requires a "deep cold chain" or specimen preservation in ethanol. In the present study the influence of sand fly collection and storage methods on viral isolation and RNA detection performances was evaluated experimentally. Methods: Specimens of laboratory-reared Phlebotomus perniciosus were artificially fed with blood containing Toscana virus (family Bunyaviridae, genus Phlebovirus). Various collection and storage conditions of blood-fed females were evaluated to mimic field procedures using single and pool samples. Isolation on VERO cell cultures, quantitative Real time-Retro-transcriptase (RT)-PCR and Nested-RT-PCR were performed according to techniques commonly used in surveillance studies. Results: Live engorged sand flies stored immediately at -80 °C were the most suitable sample for phlebovirus identification by both virus isolation and RNA detection. The viral isolation rate remained very high (26/28) for single dead engorged females frozen after 1 day, while it was moderate (10/30) for specimens collected by sticky traps maintained up to 3 days at room temperature and then stored frozen without ethanol. Opposed to viral isolation, molecular RNA detection kept very high on dead sand flies collected by sticky traps when left at room temperature up to 6 days post blood meal and then stored frozen in presence (88/95) or absence (87/88) of ethanol. Data were confirmed using sand fly pools. Conclusions: While the collection and storage methods investigated had not much impact on the ability to detect viral RNA by molecular methods, they affected the capacity to recover viable viruses. Consequently, sand fly collection and handling procedures should be established in advance depending on the goal of the surveillance studies. © 2015 Remoli et al. Source

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