West Nile Virus and Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus Are Endemic in Equids in Eastern Austria
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Abstract: The emergence of West Nile virus (WNV) and Usutu virus (USUV) in addition to the autochthonous tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in Europe causes rising concern for public and animal health. The first equine case of West Nile neuroinvasive disease in Austria was diagnosed in 2016. As a consequence, a cross-sectional seroprevalence study was conducted in 2017, including 348 equids from eastern Austria. Serum samples reactive by ELISA for either flavivirus immunoglobulin G orMwere further analyzed with the plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT-80) to identify the specific etiologic agent. Neutralizing antibody prevalences excluding vaccinated equids were found to be 5.3% for WNV, 15.5% for TBEV, 0% for USUV, and 1.2% for WNV from autochthonous origin. Additionally, reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was performed to detect WNV nucleic acid in horse sera and was found to be negative in all cases. Risk factor analysis did not identify any factors significantly associated with seropositivity.
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