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Zika Virus: the risk of spreading is low in the Alpine areas of Italy

Zika Virus: the risk of spreading is low in the Alpine areas of Italy

Posted: 19 July 2016 Last update: 14 September 2016

The results of a joint study undertaken by the Fondazione Bruno Kessler, the Fondazione Edmund Mach and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie have been published by Eurosurveillance.

The risk of the Zika virus spreading, as a result of the return of infected carriers, throughout the Triveneto, particularly in the Alpine areas can be considered low. This is affirmed by the results of a research study undertaken by the Fondazione Bruno Kessler, the Fondazione Edmund Mach and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, which have been published in the Eurosurveillance journal.

The study, financed by the Province of Trento under the LEXEM project, was made possible through the monitoring of 54 sites distributed throughout the provinces of Trento and Belluno. The results do not exclude the possibility of seeing sporadic cases in the future due to local transmission from endemic areas.

In 2015 the largest Zika virus outbreak was recorded. The Zika virus is a pathogen that can be transmitted by various species of mosquito, including the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus). So far the epidemic has affected most of the countries of South America and Central America. However, due to the increased flow of travellers to and from these areas, there is also a potential risk to European countries.

The low risk of spread in Trivento is due to the relatively low density of the tiger mosquito in this area, which is not comparable to that observed in other areas of Italy such as the Po Valley. In addition, the tiger mosquito has proved to be less suitable for the transmission of the Zika virus than the Aedes aegypti mosquito (a species similar to the tiger mosquito), which is the main cause of infection transmission in South America, but is not present in Italy.

According to Gioia Capelli, a veterinary and parasitologist of the IZSVe who is the co-author of the article, “estimates on the ability of the tiger mosquito to transmit the Zika virus should be further validated by studies conducted on the European populations of mosquitoes.”

We will therefore continue to monitor and research these invasive alien species, the impact of which is likely to increase in the coming years due to globalization and climate change.

Read the article in Eurosurveillance »
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