Revue : Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases

Recent Circulation of West Nile Virus and Potentially Other Closely Related Flaviviruses in Southern France

Auteurs :
VITTECOQ M.*, LECOLLINET S., JOURDAIN E., THOMAS F., BLANCHON T., ARNAL A., LOWENSKI S., GAUTHIER-CLERC M.

Résumé :
In recent years, the number of West Nile virus (WNV) cases reported in horses and humans has increased dramatically throughout the Mediterranean basin. Furthermore, the emergence of Usutu virus (USUV) in Austria in 2001, and its subsequent expansion to Hungary, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Germany, has given added cause for concern regarding the impact of the spread of flaviviruses on human and animal health in western Europe. Despite frequent detection of WNV and USUV cases in neighboring countries, no case of WNV has been detected in France since 2006 and USUV has never been reported. However, recent investigations focused on detecting the circulation of flaviviruses in France are lacking. We investigated the circulation of WNV and USUV viruses in wild birds in southern France on the basis of a serological survey conducted on a sentinel species, the magpie (Pica pica), in the Camargue area from November, 2009, to December, 2010. We detected WNV-neutralizing antibodies at a high titer (160) in a second-year bird showing recent exposure to WNV, although no WNV case has been detected in humans or in horses since 2004 in the Camargue. In addition, we observed low titers (10 or 20) of USUV-specific antibodies in six magpies, two of which were also seropositive for WNV. Such low titers do not give grounds for concluding that these birds had been exposed to USUV; cross-reactions at low titers may occur between antigenically closely related flaviviruses. But these results urge for further investigations into the circulation of flaviviruses in southern France. They also emphasize the necessity of undertaking epidemiological studies on a long-term basis, rather than over short periods following public health crises, to gain insight into viral dynamics within natural reservoirs.

Référence bibliographique complète :

Vittecoq M., Lecollinet S., Jourdain E., Thomas F., Blanchon T., Arnal A., Lowenski S., Gauthier-Clerc M., 2013. Recent Circulation of West Nile Virus and Potentially Other Closely Related Flaviviruses in Southern France. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 8, DOI: 10.1089/vbz.2012.1166

*Auteur correspondant : vittecoq@tourduvalat.org