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Usutu virus: current knowledge and future perspectives

Authors Saiz JC, Blazquez AB

Received 29 June 2017

Accepted for publication 14 September 2017

Published 16 October 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 27—40


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 6

Editor who approved publication: Professor Jonathan Dinman

Juan-Carlos Saiz,Ana-Belén Blázquez*

Department of Biotechnology, INIA, Carretera de La Coruña Km., Madrid, Spain

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: The Flavivirus genus (Flaviviridae family) contains important pathogens such as yellow fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, St Louis encephalitis virus, West Nile virus, Usutu virus (USUV), Zika virus, and dengue virus, many of which constitute a worrisome threat to global human and animal health. USUV is transmitted by mosquitoes and, as any other flavivirus, is an enveloped plus-strand RNA virus. The virus was first isolated from Culex neavei mosquitoes in South Africa in 1959 near the Usutu River, from where it takes its name. Since then, the virus was confined to Africa until its first detection in Austria in 2001, although it was probably present in Europe since 1996 or even earlier. After that, USUV has spread throughout Europe, causing a considerable mortality among birds and a few neurologic cases in humans. The main USUV natural hosts are birds, but infection has also been reported in other vertebrate species, including humans. The fast spread of the virus through the continent, the relatively high mortality caused in birds, and the recent neuroinvasive human cases related to USUV infection reported in Europe have raised serious concerns about its possible consequences for public health. Here, an updated review of current knowledge about this emerging pathogen is presented.

Keywords: Usutu virus, flavivirus, host cell–virus interactions, surveillance, prophylaxis

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