Spatio-temporal trends and risk factors affecting West Nile virus and related flavivirus exposure in Spanish wild ruminants

During the last decade, the spread of many flaviviruses (Genus Flavivirus) has been reported, representing an emerging threat for both animal and human health. To further study utility of wild ruminant samples in West Nile virus (WNV) surveillance, we assessed spatio–temporal trends and factors associated with WNV and cross-reacting flaviviruses exposure, particularly Usutu virus (USUV) and Meaban virus (MBV), in wild ruminants in Spain. Serum samples from 4693 wild ruminants, including 3073 free-living red deer (Cervus elaphus), 201 fallow deer (Dama dama), 125 mouflon (Ovis aries musimon), 32 roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and 1262 farmed red deer collected in 2003–2014, were screened for WNV and antigenically-related flavivirus antibodies using a blocking ELISA (bELISA). Positive samples were tested for neutralizing antibodies against WNV, USUV and MBV by virus micro-neutralization tests.

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