Large human outbreak of West Nile virus infection in north-eastern Italy in 2012

Luisa Barzon, Monia Pacenti, Elisa Franchin, Silvana Pagni, Enrico Lavezzo, Laura Squarzon, Thomas Martello, Francesca Russo, Loredana Nicoletti, Giovanni Rezza, Concetta Castilletti, Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, Pasquale Salcuni, Margherita Cattai, Riccardo Cusinato, Giorgio Palù

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) disease have been reported in Italy since 2008. So far, most cases have been identified in north-eastern Italy, where, in 2012, the largest outbreak of WNV infection ever recorded in Italy occurred. Most cases of the 2012 outbreak were identified in the Veneto region, where a special surveillance plan for West Nile fever was in place. In this outbreak, 25 cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease and 17 cases of fever were confirmed. In addition, 14 WNV RNA-positive blood donors were identified by screening of blood and organ donations and two cases of asymptomatic infection were diagnosed by active surveillance of subjects at risk of WNV exposure. Two cases of death due to WNND were reported. Molecular testing demonstrated the presence of WNV lineage 1 in all WNV RNA-positive patients and, in 15 cases, infection by the novel Livenza strain was ascertained. Surveillance in other Italian regions notified one case of neuroinvasive disease in the south of Italy and two cases in Sardinia. Integrated surveillance for WNV infection remains a public health priority in Italy and vector control activities have been strengthened in areas of WNV circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2825-2839
Number of pages15
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 22 2013


  • Blood donor screening
  • Molecular testing
  • Surveillance
  • West Nile fever
  • West Nile neuroinvasive disease
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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