Serological Survey of Mosquito-Borne Arboviruses in Wild Birds from Important Migratory Hotspots in Romania
In the context of climate change, globalization, and enhanced human traveling, arboviruses continue to represent a threat to public health. West Nile and Usutu viruses are mosquito-borne viruses belonging to the Flaviviridae family (Flavivirus genus) and members of the Japanese encephalitis virus serocomplex. Included in the Togaviridae family (Alphavirus genus), the Sindbis virus is also vectored by mosquitoes. In the present study, we aimed to analyze the presence of antibodies concerning the abovementioned viruses in migratory and resident birds in the South-Eastern region of Romania, as avian hosts represent the main reservoir for human infection. Blood samples were collected from wild birds between May 2018 and October 2019 in nine locations from three counties. All the samples were serologically tested by ELISA and a serum neutralization test. Overall, a seroprevalence of 8.72% was registered for the West Nile virus, 2.71% for the Usutu virus, and 0% for the Sindbis virus. To our best knowledge, this is the first large-scale comprehensive study to assess the West Nile virus seropositivity in wild birds and the first serological confirmation of the Usutu virus in wild birds in Romania. Moreover, this is the only follow-up study reviewing the current seroprevalence of the Sindbis virus in Romania since 1975.