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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2014 Jul;20(7):672-7. doi: 10.1111/1469-0691.12436. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

A model of laboratory surveillance for neuro-arbovirosis applied during 2012 in the Emilia-Romagna region, Italy.

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  • 1Unit of Clinical Microbiology, Regional Reference Centre for Microbiological Emergencies (CRREM), St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy.


Arboviruses with neuroinvasive potential are gaining more attention due to the increased number of cases of autochthonous and imported infections in the human host. Diagnosis of infection caused by these viruses in patients with central nervous system (CNS) diseases is still underestimated and these infections represent an emerging threat to public health. We describe a model suitable for the laboratory surveillance of neuro-arbovirosis that was applied in the Emilia-Romagna region, north-eastern Italy, during the 2012 summer season. One hundred and twenty cases of suspected neuroinvasive infection were tested for arboviral agents on the basis of clinical and laboratory signs and epidemiological data. The most common virus detected was Toscana virus (TOSV): anti-TOSV specific antibodies or viral components were detected in 28.3% of the cases; 79.4% of the TOSV cases were in the acute phase of infection. No cases resulted in acute phase for West Nile (WNV), Usutu (USUV), Chikungunya (CHIKV) or Dengue (DENV) virus infection. Conversely, two patients with a history of staying in a tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) endemic area showed a probable TBEV infection. These results emphasize the importance of a complete and 'ready to act' laboratory diagnostic system to be implemented within the larger frame of a regional integrated surveillance system.


Chikungunya virus; Dengue virus; Italy; Toscana virus; Usutu virus; West nile virus; laboratory surveillance; neuro-arbovirosis; tick-borne encephalitis virus

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