Co-infections: Simultaneous detections of West Nile virus and Usutu virus in birds from Germany

Pauline Dianne Santos, Friederike Michel, Claudia Wylezich, Dirk Höper, Markus Keller, Cora M. Holicki, Claudia A. Szentiks, Martin Eiden, Aemero Muluneh, Antonie Neubauer-Juric, Sabine Thalheim, Anja Globig, Martin Beer, Martin H. Groschup, Ute Ziegler

Mosquito-borne viruses represent a growing threat to Europe and its avifauna. West Nile virus (WNV) and Usutu virus (USUV), two flaviviruses, are arthropod-borne viruses that are primarily transmitted by ornithophilic mosquitoes to birds and mammals. In Germany WNV was introduced during the unusually hot climatic conditions in the summer of 2018, whereas USUV circulates in Germany since 2010. Simultaneous infections as well as sequential infections with WNV and USUV may modulate the risks that these viruses pose to the public health. In the study from Santos and co-workers, WNV and USUV co-infections were detected in six dead birds collected in 2018 and 2019. Furthermore, three snowy owls from a German zoo had high neutralizing antibody titres against both viruses. The authors advise follow-up studies in birds to study possible cross-protections as well as antibody-dependent enhancement in double infections.

Printed March 2021 in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases

       Pauline coinfections


Host switching pathogens, infectious outbreaks and zoonosis; a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 721367.