The challenge of west nile virus in Europe: Knowledge gaps and research priorities
Eurosurveillance , Volume 20 - Issue 20
West Nile virus (WNV) is continuously spreading across Europe, and other continents, i.e. North and South America and many other regions of the world. Despite the overall sporadic nature of outbreaks with cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND) in Europe, the spillover events have increased and the virus has been introduced into new areas. The high genetic diversity of the virus, with remarkable phenotypic variation, and its endemic circulation in several countries, require an intensification of the integrated and multidisciplinary research efforts built under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union (FP7). It is important to better clarify several aspects of WNV circulation in Europe, including its ecology, genomic diversity, pathogenicity, transmissibility, diagnosis and control options, under different environmental and socio-economic scenarios. Identifying WNV endemic as well as infection-free areas is becoming a need for the development of human vaccines and therapeutics and the application of blood and organs safety regulations. This review, produced as a joint initiative among European experts and based on analysis of 118 scientific papers published between 2004 and 2014, provides the state of knowledge on WNV and highlights the existing knowledge and research gaps that need to be addressed with high priority in Europe and neighbouring countries.