Emerging Arboviruses in the Mediterranean Countries

Abstract from Fourth National Congress of Virology with International Participation /Days of Virology in Bulgaria Sofia, May 18th - 20th, 2016

Anna Papa

Department of Microbiology, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Arboviruses (viruses transmitted by arthropods) constitute a significant Public Health threat. A list of arboviruses emerged (or re-emerged) during the last decade in the Mediterranean countries. Among tick-borne viruses, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) emerged in 2002 in Turkey with thousands of cases through 2015, while the first CCHF case was reported in 2008 in Greece. The role of the unique Greek CCHFV strain, AP92, which has not yet associated with severe disease, was discussed. The first tick-borne encephalitis cases have been reported in Bulgaria and Greece. Regarding mosquito-borne viruses, West Nile virus (WNV) caused large outbreaks in the area; it is of interest that the outbreaks in Balkans were caused by WNV lineage 2, while the outbreak in Turkey was caused by WNV lineage 1. Both WNV lineages were circulating in Italy, together with the Volgograd strain (known to circulate in Eastern Europe) which has been detected in 2014 in mosquitoes. A few autochthonous cases of Dengue and Chikungunya virus infections have been reported in Southern France and Croatia. Currently, only imported cases of Zika virus infections have been reported in Europe, however there is a risk for authochthonous cases in southern Europe.

Several novel sandfly-transmitted phleboviruses have been indentified during the recent years in the Mediterranean countries, some of them associated with disease in humans. Several factors play a role in the emergence of arboviral diseases, among them are the environmental change and globalization. Awareness of medical staff, reporting the unusual, and surveillance are needed. Well-designed collaborative studies will provide a better insight into the epidemiology and pathogenicity of the emerging viruses and diseases.

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