Survey for Antibodies Against Arthropod-Borne Viruses in Man and Animals in Italy

I. Serologic Status of Human Beings and Animals in a Central Italian Region (Fondi)

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Sera from 205 apparently healthy residents in the region of Fondi (central Italy) were tested by hemagglutination-inhibition against 10 different arboviruses: two from group A, five from group B, Bunyamwera, and the Sicilian and Neapolitan strains of Phlebotomus fever.

About 29% of the sera reacted with one or more antigens: 1.9% to TBE, 8.3% to WN, 20.5% to Sicilian Phlebotomus fever and 9.7% to Neapolitan Phlebotomus fever.

Sera from 153 domestic and wild animals of various species (cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, pigs, rats, and wild mice), collected in the same area, were examined by the HI test against the same 10 antigens.

Twenty-four percent of bovine sera, 32% of goat sera, and one sheep serum reacted with WEE antigen. Seven percent of bovine sera and 44% of goat sera showed antibody for TBE antigen; WN antibodies were found in bovine, goat, rabbit, rat and wild-mice sera.

Some of the human and animal HI-positive sera were further tested with the corresponding viruses by mouse-neutralization test. The presence of TBE neutralizing antibodies was confirmed in human and goat sera; WN and WEE neutralizing antibodies were not encountered, indicating perhaps the presence of viruses closely related; NT antibodies to Sicilian Phlebotomus fever were not detected.

Author Notes

Department of Microbiology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome.

Public Health Officer, Fondi.

Department of Parasitology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome.