Genomic monitoring to understand the emergence and spread of Usutu virus in the Netherlands, 2016–2018

B. Bas Oude Munnink (Corresponding author), E. Münger, D. F. Nieuwenhuijse, R. Kohl, A. van der Linden, C. M. E. Schapendonk, H. van der Jeugd, M. Kik, J. M. Rijks, C. B. E. M. Reusken, M. Koopmans

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Usutu virus (USUV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus circulating in Western Europe that causes die-offs of mainly common blackbirds (Turdus merula). In the Netherlands, USUV was first detected in 2016, when it was identified as the likely cause of an outbreak in birds. In this study, dead blackbirds were collected, screened for the presence of USUV and submitted to Nanopore-based sequencing. Genomic sequences of 112 USUV were obtained and phylogenetic analysis showed that most viruses identified belonged to the USUV Africa 3 lineage, and molecular clock analysis evaluated their most recent common ancestor to 10 to 4 years before first detection of USUV in the Netherlands. USUV Europe 3 lineage, commonly found in Germany, was less frequently detected. This analyses further suggest some extent of circulation of USUV between the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, as well as likely overwintering of USUV in the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2798
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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