West Nile Virus: Seroprevalence in Animals in Palestine and Israel
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West Nile virus (WNV) epidemiological situation in Israel and Palestine, due to their unique location, draws attention following to the global spread of West Nile fever (WNF). Although much information is available from Israel on clinical cases and prevalence of WNV, clinical cases are rarely reported in Palestine, and prevalence is not known. The objectives of this study were to determine WNV seroprevalence in various domestic animals in Palestine and to reevaluate current seroprevalence, force of infection, and risk factors for WNV exposure in horses in Israel. Sera samples were collected from 717 animals from Palestine and Israel (460 horses, 124 donkeys, 3 mules, 50 goats, 45 sheep, and 35 camels). Two hundred and ten horses were sampled twice. The level of WNV antibodies was determined using commercial Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) Kit. Seroprevalence in equids was 73%. Seroprevalence in Israel (84.6%) was significantly higher than in Palestine (48.6%). Seroprevalence in horses (82.6%) was significantly higher than in donkeys and mules (39.3%). Multivariable statistical analysis showed that geographical area, landscape features (altitude), environmental factors (land surface temperature during the day [LSTD]), species, and age significantly influenced WNV seroprevalence. Fourteen of 95 (14.7%) sheep and goats and 14/35 camels (40%) sampled in Palestine were seropositive for WNV. Of the horses that were sampled twice, 82.8% were seropositive for WNV at the first sampling, and all remained seropositive. Three of the seronegative horses, all from Palestine, converted to positive when resampled (8.5%). The results indicate that domestic animals in Palestine were infected with WNV in the past, and the seroconversion indicates that WNV was circulating in Palestine in the summer of 2014. Control measures to prevent human infection should be implemented in Palestine. Anti WNV antibodies in domestic animals suggest that those species can be used as sentinels for WNV activity in areas where most horses are either seropositive or vaccinated.