Prevalence and Detection of Flaviviruses Occurring in Slovakia

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The tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and West Nile virus (WNV) are arboviruses of the genus Flavivirus in the family Flaviviridae. Their hosts are vertebratesof which rodents are the reservoirs of TBEV and birds are the reservoirs of WNV. Both viruses are transmitted from reservoirs to mammals by vectors. TBEV is transmitted by ticks (mostly Ixodes spp.) and WNV by mosquitoes (mostly Culex spp.). Both viruses are capable of infecting mammals, including man. TBEV and WNV are neurotropic, however infection is, in most cases, subclinical or accompanied by only moderate general signs. However, in some cases they can cause serious disturbances of the CNS. Our study focused on the detection of the genomes of TBEV and WNV in vectors by means of the reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The flavivirus genome was detected by means of oligonucleotides delineating the sequence in NS5 gene that encodes viral RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase. For the detection of TBEV, we used the oligonucleotide pair detecting the structural envelope protein. The positive samples were subjected to the sequence and phylogenetic analysis. The WNV was not detected in any of the pooled samples prepared from 616 mosquitoes captured in the vicinity of the village Drienovec, district Košice-surroundings. The investigation of 676 ticks demonstrated the presence of one strain of TBEV. One blood-fed I. ricinus female was obtained from a goat grazing in a pasture in the Dúbrava area close to Prešov. The genetic analysis revealed the presence of a strain close to the endemic strainsof TBEV Hypr and Neudörfl. The results of our study can become a motivation for additional studies in model locations oriented on ecology and circulation of these important zoonotic flaviviruses.

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