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Vet Microbiol. 2007 Jun 21;122(3-4):237-45. Epub 2007 Feb 11.

Monitoring of Usutu virus activity and spread by using dead bird surveillance in Austria, 2003-2005.

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Department of Pathobiology, Institute of Pathology and Forensic Veterinary Medicine, University of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinärplatz 1, Vienna, Austria.


Usutu virus has been causing avian mortality in Austria since its emergence in 2001. Between 2003 and 2005 a total of 504 dead birds were examined by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry for the presence of Usutu virus nucleic acid and antigen, respectively. In 2003, 92 birds (out of 177 birds) belonging to five different species were positive, while in 2004, only 11 (of 224) birds, and in 2005, 4 (of 103) birds proved positive, all of which were blackbirds (Turdus merula). Within the surveillance period the virus had spread from its initial area of emergence and circulation, the surroundings of Vienna, to large areas of the federal states of Lower Austria, Burgenland and Styria. However, the absolute numbers of Usutu virus associated avian deaths declined significantly during the course of the years. In addition, the proportion of birds with low amounts of virus in their tissues increased continuously, which may indicate developing herd immunity.

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