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Evidence of West Nile Virus (WNV) Circulation in Wild Birds and WNV RNA Negativity in Mosquitoes of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, Romania, 2016

West Nile virus (WNV) is a zoonotic flavivirus whose transmission cycle in nature includes wild birds as amplifying hosts and ornithophilic mosquito vectors. Bridge vectors can transmit WNV to mammal species potentially causing West Nile Fever. Wild bird migration is a mode of WNV introduction into new areas. The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (DDBR) is a major stopover of wild birds migrating between Europe and Africa. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of WNV in the DDBR during the 2016 transmission season in wild birds and mosquitoes. Blood from 68 wild birds (nine different species) trapped at four different locations was analyzed by competitive ELISA and Virus Neutralization Test (VNT), revealing positive results in 8/68 (11.8%) of the wild birds by ELISA of which six samples (three from juvenile birds) were confirmed seropositive by VNT. Mosquitoes (n = 6523, 5 genera) were trapped with CDC Mini Light traps at two locations and in one location resting mosquitoes were caught. The presence of WNV RNA was tested in 134 pools by reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). None of the pools was positive for WNV-specific RNA. Based on the obtained results, WNV was circulating in the DDBR during 2016.


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