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Usutu virus is a mosquito-borne virus first isolated from Culex naevei in South Africa in 1959. The first emergence of Usutu virus outside Africa was recorded in Austria. Here, a phylogenetic analysis targeting the E5 and NS5 genes was carried out on the viral strains circulating in Europe. The NS5 gene tree showed two main clades, one of which included the Italian sequences. In the E gene tree all sequences grouped into the same main clade, with sequences from Austria divided into two separate clusters. Only sites under negative selective pressure were found in E and NS5 proteins. The results suggest that Usutu virus circulating in Europe has a degree of genetic diversity higher than expected and that infection may arise from different sources.


Simone Peletto, Alessandra Lo Presti, Paola Modesto, Eleonora Cella, Pier Luigi Acutis, Francesca Farchi, Marco Ciotti, Gianguglielmo Zehender, Massimo Ciccozzi. Genetic diversity of Usutu virus. The new microbiologica. 2012 Apr;35(2):167-74

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PMID: 22707129

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