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Microbes Infect. 2003 Oct;5(12):1132-6.

Usutu virus activity in Austria, 2001-2002.

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Institute of Pathology and Forensic Veterinary Medicine, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria.


Usutu virus (USUV), a member of the mosquito-borne clade within the Flaviviridae family, was responsible for avian mortality in Austria in 2001. In 2002, the virus continued to kill birds, predominantly blackbirds. High numbers of avian deaths were recorded within the city of Vienna and in surrounding districts of the federal state of Lower Austria, while single die-offs were noticed in the federal states of Styria and Burgenland. A total of 72 birds were submitted for laboratory examination, 30 of which tested positive for USUV by immunohistochemistry and/or polymerase chain reaction. Laboratory-confirmed cases of USUV infection originated from the federal states of Vienna and Lower Austria only. The data show that (i) USUV has managed to overwinter and has been able to establish a transmission cycle in Austria, (ii) the virus seems to have become a resident pathogen of Austria with a tendency to spread to other geographic areas, and (iii) the surveillance of dead blackbirds is a useful sentinel system for monitoring USUV activity.

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