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J Med Virol. 2003 Sep;71(1):140-9.

Detection and identification of Toscana and other phleboviruses by RT-nested-PCR assays with degenerated primers.

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Laboratory of Arboviruses and Imported Viral Diseases, Diagnostic Microbiology Service, National Center for Microbiology, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.


Phleboviruses are a large and widespread group of viruses that are transmitted by arthropods. Toscana virus is one of the principal agents that causes meningitis in humans during the summer in Italy and, possibly, in other Mediterranean countries. Rift Valley Fever virus can cause serious illness in both animals and humans, leading to high morbidity and mortality, and is considered to be a potential agent for epizootics and human epidemics. Since information on this group of viruses is still scant, reliable laboratory tools for diagnosis and epidemiological surveillance must be developed, in order to ascertain their real impact on Public Health. Sequence data obtained from Spanish isolates of Toscana virus and other phleboviruses confirmed that natural genome variability may hamper the diagnosis of these agents by molecular methods, so this must be borne in mind when developing reliable assays. In view of the above, a novel and useful protocol has been developed for the detection and specific identification of every member of the phlebovirus genus present in a sample, including Toscana virus, based on a generic RT-nested-PCR, followed by sequencing of the amplified fragment. A change in this method also allowed specific direct detection and identification of wild isolates of Toscana virus of different geographical origin, using newly designed primers. Testing clinical samples with these assays confirmed the role of Toscana virus as an agent that causes acute aseptic meningitis in the central region of Spain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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