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Transbound Emerg Dis. 2019 Apr 11. doi: 10.1111/tbed.13201. [Epub ahead of print]

The possible route of introduction of bluetongue virus serotype 3 into Sicily by windborne transportation of infected Culicoides spp.

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VISAVET Health Surveillance Centre, Universidad Complutense Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universidad Complutense Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


In October 2017, the first outbreak of bluetongue virus serotype 3 (BTV-3) began in Italy, specifically in western Sicily. The route of entrance remains unclear, although since 2016 the same strain had been circulating only 150 km away, on the Tunisian peninsula of Cape Bon. The present analysis assessed the feasibility that wind could have carried BTV-3-infected Culicoides spp. from Tunisia to Sicily. An advection-deposition-survival (ADS) model was used to estimate when and where Culicoides spp. were likely to be introduced prior to the first BTV-3 report in Italy. Additionally, the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model was used to support ADS outputs. The modelling suggests that during September 2017, strong wind currents and suitable climatic conditions could have allowed the transportation of Culicoides spp. from BTV-3-infected areas in Tunisia into Sicily. ADS simulations suggest that particles could have reached the province of Trapani in western Sicily on 2 and 12 September. These simulations suggest the feasibility of aerial transportation of infected Culicoides spp. from Tunisia into Sicily. They demonstrate the suitability of the ADS model for retrospective studies of long-range transportation of insects across large water bodies, which may enhance the early detection of vectorial disease introduction in a region.


Culicoides ; bluetongue; introduction; serotype 3; windborne


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