Equine Seroprevalence Rates as an Additional Indicator for a More Accurate Risk Assessment of the West Nile Virus Transmission

Goran Vignjević, Ivana Vrućina, Ivana Šestak, Nataša Turić, Mirta Sudarić Bogojević, Enrih Merdić


The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a zoonotic arbovirus that has recently been causing outbreaks in many countries in southern and Central Europe. In 2012, for the first time, it caused an outbreak in eastern Croatia with total of 7 human clinical cases. With an aim of assisting public health personnel in order to improve survey protocols and vector control, the high risk areas of the WNV transmission were estimated and mapped. The study area included cities of Osijek and Slavonski Brod and 8 municipalities in Vukovarsko-Srijemska County. Risk estimation was based on seroprevalence of WNV infections in horses as an indicator of the virus presence, as well as the presence of possible WNV mosquito vectors with corresponding vector competences. Four mosquito species considered as possible WNV vectors are included in this study: Aedes vexans, Culex modestus, Culex pipiens and Ochlerotatus caspius. Mosquitoes were sampled using dry-ice baited CDC trap, twice a month, between May and October. This study suggests that the two mosquito species present the main risk of WNV transmission in eastern Croatia: the Culex pipiens – because of good vector competence and the Aedes vexans – because of the very high abundances. As a result, these two species should be focus of future mosquito surveillance and a vector control management.


West Nile Virus, outbreak, mosquitoes, Aedes vexans, Culex pipiens, Culex modestus, Ochlerotatus caspius, risk assessment, risk mapping, equine seroprevalence, vector competence

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