In the summer of 2016, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands reported widespread Usutu virus (USUV) activity based on live and dead bird surveillance. The causative USUV strains represented four lineages, of which two putative novel lineages were most likely recently introduced into Germany and spread to other western European countries. The spatial extent of the outbreak area corresponded with R0 values > 1. The occurrence of the outbreak, the largest USUV epizootic registered so far in Europe, allowed us to gain insight in how a recently introduced arbovirus with potential public health implications can spread and become a resident pathogen in a naïve environment. Understanding the ecological and epidemiological factors that drive the emergence or re-emergence of USUV is critical to develop and implement timely surveillance strategies for adequate preventive and control measures. Public health authorities, blood transfusion services and clinicians in countries where USUV was detected should be aware of the risk of possible USUV infection in humans, including in patients with unexplained encephalitis or other neurological impairments, especially during late summer when mosquito densities peak.

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Journal Eurosurveillance
Grant This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id h2020/643476 - COllaborative Management Platform for detection and Analyses of (Re-)emerging and foodborne outbreaks in Europe (COMPARE)
Cadar, D., Lühken, R., van der Jeugd, H.P, Garigliany, M., Ziegler, U., Keller, M., … Schmidt-Chanasit, J. (2017). Widespread activity of multiple lineages of Usutu virus, Western Europe, 2016. Eurosurveillance, 22(4). doi:10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.4.30452