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Another Bird Virus Jumps to Humans

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    Posted: October 13 2017 at 1:24pm
This is non fatal, though there would be a risk to immuno-compromised people:

Usutu virus is back – not only in blackbirds but also in humans

October 13, 2017
Usutu virus is back – not only in blackbirds but also in humans
Usutu-viruses not just infect birds, but also humans in a higher number than previously thought. Credit: Georg Mair/Vetmeduni Vienna

Usutu virus, a flavivirus of African origin, was first detected in Austria in 2001, when it caused a severe bird die-off, mainly of blackbirds. The virus was active in the eastern part of Austria until 2005, killing many blackbirds, but also other songbirds. During 10 subsequent years no Usutu virus associated bird mortality was observed in Austria – contrary to neighboring Hungary. Last year Usutu virus was identified again in two blackbirds – and in 2017 already in sixteen songbirds. A research team of the Vetmeduni Vienna investigated the virus strains involved. In another study Usutu virus was demonstrated in seven human blood donations from eastern Austria, suggesting that human infections seem to be more frequent than previously thought. Implications for blood services in Europe are discussed.

Between 2001 and 2005 the massive black bird mortality in eastern Austria received wide public attention. Usutu virus, the aetiological agent, belongs to the flavivirus family, together with tick-borne encephalitis-, West Nile- and Dengue viruses. Since then no Usutu virus associated bird mortality was observed in Austria, while in other European countries such as Hungary a small number of Usutu virus-positive wild birds was diagnosed in each year. The epidemiological situation changed significantly in 2016, when Usutu virus wild bird die-off was reported from various European countries including 12 cases from Hungary and two from Austria.

A team of researchers from the Vetmeduni Vienna investigated genetically the virus strains which circulated in Hungary since 2010 and in Austria in 2016. In 2014, the Austrian Red Cross, Blood Service for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, initiated regular screening of all blood donated between 1 June and 30 November each year for West Nile virus by a nucleic acid test. Interestingly, one positive sample in 2016 and six blood donations in 2017 turned out to be infected by Usutu virus and not by West Nile virus.

Old and new viruses circulate in Austria and Hungary

"We were surprised to see after 10 years of absence last year the reemergence of Usutu virus in Austria. Also other European countries reported last year widespread Usutu virus activity," says the principal investigator Norbert Nowotny from the Institute of Virology. "We therefore investigated the genetic set-up of the Austrian and Hungarian viruses in order to enhance our understanding which virus strains are currently active in the regions and from where they have been introduced." The viruses identified in Hungary between 2010 and 2015 were closely related to the "original" virus strain that was responsible for the blackbird die-off in Austria from 2001 to 2005. However, the viruses found in 2016 in both countries turned out to be related to virus strains which circulated in Italy during 2009 and 2010. These two virus variants belong to two different European genetic lineages. "This demonstrates that variousvirus strains are exchanged between neighboring countries," explains Nowotny.

Human Usutu virus infections are more prevalent than previously thought

Besides wild birds, humans can also be infected with Usutu virus through mosquito bites. Usually human Usutu virus infections are asymptomatic, occasionally they may result in fever and rash. Neurologic symptoms and severe courses of the disease are rare in humans, although critical illness was reported in immunosuppressed patients, e.g., in two cases in 2009 in Italy.

With increased Usutu virus activity in a region also the risk of human infections increases. Since West Nile virus, a well-known human pathogen, is endemic in the eastern part of Austria, all blood donations from that area have been tested for flavivirus nucleic acid since 2014. "Contrary to most other flavivirus infections Usutu is not considered a communicable disease. However, the employed diagnostic test detects essentially all flaviviruses, including Usutu virus," states Franz Allerberger from the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). When retested with virus-specific assays, it turned out that seven blood donations were infected with Usutu virus and not with West Nile virus. None of the Usutu virus-positive blood donors reported clinical symptoms, and only one mentioned a stay abroad.

Testing donor blood prevents subsequent diseases

"Flavivirus-positive blood donations – both West Nile and Usutu virus positives – are discarded and consequently do not pose any risk to recipients of blood donations. However, there are a number of European countries, in which West Nile virus infections did not yet occur but in which Usutu virus circulates. In these countries blood donations may not be screened for flaviviruses. On the other hand, blood recipients are frequently immunocompromised persons, in which an Usutu virus infection may result in severe disease. To increase awareness of this possibility was one of the main goals of our second study," says Nowotny.

 Explore further: Forensic pathology: Tracing the origin of the Usutu Virus

More information: Tamás Bakonyi et al. Usutu virus infections among blood donors, Austria, July and August 2017 – Raising awareness for diagnostic challenges, Eurosurveillance (2017). DOI: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.41.17-00644 


Source:   https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-10-usutu-virus-blackbirds-humans.html

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2017 at 2:42pm
lots of displaced People moving around,

dosnt look good for the future   Cry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Technophobe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2018 at 3:39am
[Technophobe: It has jumped to the next country too - Germany.]

Usutu virus spreads among birds in Germany

Birds in Germany are dying of the African Usutu virus. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes. Blackbirds in particular have been infected in recent years.

With the recent heatwave, more and more birds in Germany are contracting the Usutu virus. The pathogen, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, has repeatedly led to the death of birds in recent years. In the summer months in particular, infections have been more frequent because the mosquitoes that transmit the virus multiply more rapidly.

So far, the Bernhard Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine has been able to detect the virus in 43 bird carcasses from ten German states. The doctors had investigated 132 suspected cases. The number of unreported cases is likely to be significantly higher.

More than last year

Around 1,500 suspected cases have been reported to the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU) so far, many of them in August.

"The cases reported in 2018 so far clearly exceed the figures from previous years, which indicates a leap in the spread of the virus," explained NABU expert Lars Lachmann.

NABU had registered 1,380 suspected cases in Germany for the entire year of 2017. Last year, the Bernhard Nocht-Institute examined 130 dead birds that citizens had sent in and was able to detect the virus in 45 cases.

First appearance in Europe in 2001

The Usutu virus originates from the Usutu River region in Swaziland, between South Africa and Mozambique. It was first discovered there in 1959. In Europe, it first appeared in Austria in 2001. In the following years there were infections in Hungary, Switzerland and Italy as well.

In Germany, veterinarians detected the first major wave of the disease in 2011. After a few years with fewer reported cases, there was another epidemic in 2016, which mainly affected blackbirds. About 600 dead birds were found at that time.

Due to the humid and warm weather in late summer, the mosquitoes that transmit the Usutu virus have multiplied particularly strongly. This is probably why there was a further increase in infections in 2017 and 2018, bird conservationists say.

Most suspected cases in 2017 were reported in North Rhine-Westphalia, with 500 dead birds. Another 100 entries each came from Baden-Württemberg and Saxony. Since then, the virus has been spreading northwards.

Humans can also become infected with the Usutu virus. The course of the disease is usually mild. In people with immunodeficiency, however, it can lead to fever, headaches, skin rash and, in rare cases, to encephalitis.

Source:   https://www.dw.com/en/usutu-virus-spreads-among-birds-in-germany/a-45208086
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