Isolation of Bhanja Virus from Haemaphysalis Ticks in Italy

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  • Departments of Microbiology and Parasitology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità Viale Regina Elena, 299, Rome, Italy

Nine strains of the same virus were isolated from unfed ticks (Haemaphysalis punctata) collected from goats and vegetation in central Italy. Serologic and biological studies differentiated it from other viruses isolated from ixodid ticks in Europe, and complement-fixation tests showed it to be indistinguishable from Bhanja virus. Serologic studies suggest that infection of animals with the virus is widespread in Italy, especially in goats, serum from which was positive by the hemagglutination-inhibition test in 44 (72%) of 61 tests. The virus was first isolated in India and has been found in Nigeria; this is the first report of its presence in Italy. Bhanja virus has not been isolated from a vertebrate, and the assessment of its pathogenicity for man and domestic animals has yet to be determined.

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