West Nile virus in Tunisia, 2014: First isolation from mosquitoes

F. Wasfi, K. Dachraoui, S. Cherni, A. Bosworth, W. Barhoumi, S. Dowall, I. Chelbi, M. Derbali, Z. Zoghlami, J. C. Beier, E. Zhioua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Several outbreaks of human West Nile virus (WNV) infections were reported in Tunisia during the last two decades. Serological studies on humans as well as on equine showed intensive circulation of WNV in Tunisia. However, no virus screening of mosquitoes for WNV has been performed in Tunisia. In the present study, we collected mosquito samples from Central Tunisia to be examined for the presence of flaviviruses. A total of 102 Culex pipiens mosquitoes were collected in September 2014 from Central Tunisia. Mosquitoes were pooled according to the collection site, date and sex with a maximum of 5 specimens per pool and tested for the presence of flaviviruses by conventional reverse transcription heminested PCR and by a specific West Nile virus real time reverse transcription PCR. Of a total of 21 pools tested, 7 were positive for WNV and no other flavivirus could be evidenced in mosquito pools. In addition, WNV was isolated on Vero cells. Phylogenetic analysis showed that recent Tunisian WNV strains belong to lineage 1 WNV and are closely related to the Tunisian strain 1997 (PAH 001). This is the first detection and isolation of WNV from mosquitoes in Tunisia. Some areas of Tunisia are at high risk for human WNV infections. WNV is likely to cause future sporadic and foreseeable outbreaks. Therefore, it is of major epidemiological importance to set up an entomological surveillance as an early alert system. Timely detection of WNV should prompt vector control to prevent future outbreaks. In addition, education of people to protect themselves from mosquito bites is of major epidemiological importance as preventive measure against WNV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-110
Number of pages5
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Culex mosquitoes
  • Emerging
  • Flaviviruses
  • North Africa
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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