Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Following a large West Nile virus (WNV) epidemic in northeastern Italy in 2008, human and animal surveillance activities were implemented in Emilia Romagna. Human surveillance was performed by serology or genome detection on blood and cerebrospinal fluid for all suspected cases suffering from acute meningoencephalitis in the regional territory. Animal surveillance consisted of passive and active surveillance of horses and active surveillance of wild birds and mosquitoes. Between 15 June and 31 October 2009, nine of 78 possible cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease were confirmed (three fatal). From May to October, 26 cases of neurological West Nile disease were confirmed among 46 horses. The overall incidence of seroconversion among horses in 2009 was 13%. In 2009, 44 of 1,218 wild birds yielded positive PCR results for WNV infection. The planned veterinary and entomological surveillance actions detected WNV activity from the end of July 2009, about 2-3 weeks before the onset of the first human neurological case. Passive surveillance of horses seems to be an early and suitable tool for the detection of WNV activity, but it will be less sensitive in the future, because an intensive programme of horse vaccination started in June 2009.


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