West Nile Virus emergence in Piedmont, Northern Italy: from molecular to computational approaches
Francesco, C., Bertolotti, L., Giacobini, M. Department of Animal Productions, Epidemiology and Ecology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine; University of Torino, via Leonardo d Vinci, 44, IT-10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy Computational Biology Unit, Molecular Biotechnology Center, University of Torino, via Nizza 52, IT-10126 Torino, Italy
West Nile virus (WNv) belonging to the genus Flavivirus, is the etiological agent of vector borne zoonoses in Africa, Middle-East, Europe and USA. WNv is transmitted by mosquitoes belonging to
the genus Culex and Aedes and knowledge on the WNv infection risk is essential to understanding the transmission potential in Piedmont.
The main goal of this work is to collate data from satellite imaging and remote sensing to detect areas favorable for the maintenance of vector population, paticularly Aedes albopictus. Following the identification of risk areas, field collection in different areas and periods for various mosquito vectors and birds will be conducted. In addition, blood collection from both domestic and wild ungulates will be carried out. Piedmont is on the bird migratory routes from Sahara and Central Africa, and this is a key aspect for the epidemiological study and prevention of WNV spreading and
infection. Vectors will be identified and nucleic amplification protocols (RT-PCR, PCR) will be used to detect the presence of WNV and to identify vector hosts.