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Open AccessArticle

Ecology of West Nile Virus in the Danube Delta, Romania: Phylogeography, Xenosurveillance and Mosquito Host-Feeding Patterns

Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus and Hemorrhagic Fever Reference and Research, 20359 Hamburg, Germany
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany
“Lendület” Landscape and Conservation Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Botany, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, 2163 Vácrátót, Hungary
Department of Clinical Sciences-Infectious Diseases, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, 400372 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Center of Systems Biology, Biodiversity and Bioresources, Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babeș-Bolyai University, 400372 Cluj Napoca, Romania
German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF), partner site Hamburg-Luebeck-Borstel-Riems, 20359 Hamburg, Germany
Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences, Universität Hamburg, 20148 Hamburg, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Viruses 2019, 11(12), 1159;
Received: 5 November 2019 / Revised: 7 December 2019 / Accepted: 11 December 2019 / Published: 14 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
The ecology of West Nile virus (WNV) in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (Romania) was investigated by combining studies on the virus genetics, phylogeography, xenosurveillance and host-feeding patterns of mosquitoes. Between 2014 and 2016, 655,667 unfed and 3842 engorged mosquito females were collected from four sampling sites. Blood-fed mosquitoes were negative for WNV-RNA, but two pools of unfed Culex pipiens s.l./torrentium collected in 2014 were tested positive. Our results suggest that Romania experienced at least two separate WNV lineage 2 introductions: from Africa into Danube Delta and from Greece into south-eastern Romania in the 1990s and early 2000s, respectively. The genetic diversity of WNV in Romania is primarily shaped by in situ evolution. WNV-specific antibodies were detected for 19 blood-meals from dogs and horses, but not from birds or humans. The hosts of mosquitoes were dominated by non-human mammals (19 species), followed by human and birds (23 species). Thereby, the catholic host-feeding pattern of Culex pipiens s.l./torrentium with a relatively high proportion of birds indicates the species’ importance as a potential bridge vector. The low virus prevalence in combination with WNV-specific antibodies indicate continuous, but low activity of WNV in the Danube Delta during the study period. View Full-Text
Keywords: West Nile virus; virus genetics; phylogeography; xenosurveillance; blood meal West Nile virus; virus genetics; phylogeography; xenosurveillance; blood meal
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Tomazatos, A.; Jansen, S.; Pfister, S.; Török, E.; Maranda, I.; Horváth, C.; Keresztes, L.; Spînu, M.; Tannich, E.; Jöst, H.; Schmidt-Chanasit, J.; Cadar, D.; Lühken, R. Ecology of West Nile Virus in the Danube Delta, Romania: Phylogeography, Xenosurveillance and Mosquito Host-Feeding Patterns. Viruses 2019, 11, 1159.

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