Usutu virus, Austria and Hungary, 2010-2016.
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Abstract: Usutu virus (USUV,Flaviviridae) was first reported in Europe in Austria in 2001, where it caused wild bird (mainly black bird) mortality until 2005. Since 2006 no further USUV cases were diagnosed in the country. However, the virus emerged in otherEuropean countries (Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic) between 2005 and 2011. In 2016,widespread USUV-associated wild bird mortality was observed in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In this study,we report the results of passive monitoring for USUV in Austria and Hungary between 2010 and 2016. In Hungary, USUV caused sporadic cases of wild bird mortality between 2010 and 2015 (altogether 18 diagnosed cases), whereas in summer and autumn 2016 the number of cases considerably increased to 12 (ten blackbirds, one Eurasian jay and one starling). In Austria,USUV was identified in two blackbirds in 2016. Phylogenetic analyses of coding-complete genomes and partial regions of theNS5 protein gene revealed that USUVs from Hungary between 2010 and 2015 are closely related to the virus that emerged in Austria in 2001 and in Hungary in 2005, while one Hungarian sequence from 2015 and all sequences from Hungary and Austria from 2016 clustered together with USUV sequences reported from Italy between 2009 and 2010. The results of the study indicate continuous USUV circulation in the region and exchange of USUV strains between Italy, Austria and Hungary.