|Update - USUTU virus in Flanders|
05/10 - Confirmation of Usutu case with blackbirds, thrushes and owls in the provinces of Limburg, Antwerp and Flemish Brabant
Following the first cases detected in Flanders, new samples were collected as part of monitoring implemented by the ANB. Molecular testing by CODA-CERVA on the brains of blackbirds and thrushes as well as swabs from sick owls have all proved positive. Cities and townships in Flanders where the Usutu virus was detected are taken on the attached map. This will be updated following new cases detected. The virus was isolated from the first samples which will allow a characterization of the Usutu strain currently circulating in Flanders.
First detection of Usutu virus in wild birds in Flanders
At the end of 2016 particularly mild, an abnormal mortality of blackbirds (around 60 animals) was recorded by the rehabilitation center of Opglabbeek. Concurrently, similar deaths were reported for the first time in the Netherlands. On September 21, the Dutch Wildlife Health Centre (DWHC) associated with the Erasmus MC, confirmed an infection Usutu virus on these Dutch blackbirds. At the initiative of the Agenschap Natuur en Bos (ANB), a passive surveillance for the Usutu virus was initiated. The first samples of that monitoring, six dead blackbirds, were sent to the laboratory of Avian Virology and Immunology in CODACERVA and were positive for the Usutu virus by the use of molecular techniques. This detection confirms the presence and circulation of the virus in the north of the country. A first warning took place in 2012, when the virus was identified in a bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) bred in captivity and a great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), both in the Meuse valley between the towns of Namur and Huy in the south of the country.