Molecular Detection and Serological Evidence of Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus in Serbia

Authors:  Potkonjak Aleksandar, Petrović Tamaš, Ristanović Elizabeta, Lalić Ivica, Vračar Vuk, Savić Sara, Turkulov Vesna, Čanak Grozdana, Milošević Vesna, Vidanović Dejan, Jurišić Aleksandar, Petrović Aleksandra, and Petrović Vladimir. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

Online Ahead of Print: October 24, 2017

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a zoonotic flaviviral infection that is a growing public health concern in European countries. The aims of this research were to detect and characterize tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in Ixodes ricinus ticks at presumed natural foci in Serbia, and to determine seroprevalence of TBEV IgG antibodies in humans and animals.

A total of 500 I. ricinus ticks were examined for the presence of TBEV by real-time RT-PCR, and conventional nested PCR and sequencing. To determine TBEV seroprevalence, 267 human sera samples were collected, as were 200 sera samples from different animal species. All sera samples were examined by ELISA for the presence of anti-TBEV antibodies. To exclude cross-reactivity, all sera samples were tested for anti-West Nile virus (WNV) antibodies and all human sera samples were also tested for anti-Usutu virus antibodies by ELISA.

Results of this preliminary study indicated TBEV activity in Serbia at two microfoci. Several decades after the previous documentation of TBEV in Serbia, we have demonstrated the presence of TBEV in I. ricinus questing nymphs (prevalence 2% and 6.6% at the two different localities) and anti-TBEV antibodies in humans (seroprevalence 0.37%). Moreover, we show for the first time TBEV seroprevalence in several animal species in Serbia, including dogs (seroprevalence 17.5%), horses (5%), wild boars (12.5%), cattle (2.5%), and roe deer (2.5%). None of the goats tested was positive for anti-TBEV IgG antibodies. TBEV isolate from I. ricinus tick in this study belonged to the Western European subtype. To understand the true public health concern in Serbia, detailed epidemiological, clinical, virological, and acarological research are required. This is important for implementation of effective control measures to reduce the incidence of TBE in Serbia.

___________________ (Tick-borne encephalitis) Treatment   Therapeutic approaches for viruses can only support the body in its fight against the pathogen by alleviating symptoms and preventing long-term damage; however, TBE patients can suffer from life-threatening symptoms and need to be closely monitored.


It is only in the second stage of disease that early meningoencephalitis can be detected by laboratory tests (blood, brain and spinal fluid).  Other Flaviviridae viruses closely related to TBEV:  Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus in Siberia, Kyasanur Forest disease virus in India and its close relative, Alkhurma virus in Saudi Arabia, Louping ill virus (United Kingdom) that causes disease primarily in sheep but has been reported as the cause of a TBE-like illness in laboratory workers and persons with contact to sick sheep (e.g., veterinarians, butchers), and Powassan virus in the USA and Russia, is responsible for encephalitis in humans.

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Viruses in general:  Since the 1970’s scientists have done disease research in the same labs manufacturing vaccines.  They erroneously believed that mouse viruses and human viruses would not interact, or travel from one part of the research facility to another. This belief was proven wrong in 2009 by Dr. Judy Mikovits and other scientists who discovered that a retrovirus called XMRV (xenotropic murine retrovirus) and other related retroviruses were now present in 6% of Americans and that this retrovirus was appearing in a very high percentage of people with diseases such as prostate cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, autism, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, treatment resistant Lyme disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.




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