During February 2018-January 2019, we conducted large-scale surveillance for the presence and prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and louping ill virus (LIV) in sentinel animals and ticks in the United Kingdom. Serum was collected from 1,309 deer culled across England and Scotland. Overall, 4% of samples were ELISA-positive for the TBEV serocomplex. A focus in the Thetford Forest area had the highest proportion (47.7%) of seropositive samples. Ticks collected from culled deer within seropositive regions were tested for viral RNA; 5 of 2,041 ticks tested positive by LIV/TBEV real-time reverse transcription PCR, all from within the Thetford Forest area. From 1 tick, we identified a full-length genomic sequence of TBEV. Thus, using deer as sentinels revealed a potential TBEV focus in the United Kingdom. This detection of TBEV genomic sequence in UK ticks has important public health implications, especially for undiagnosed encephalitis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:This research was funded by the Virology & Pathogenesis Group’s Arbovirus Programme, Public Health England, and by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at the University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England, in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. M.H. is funded by the National Institute of Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections. M.S.R. is funded by the Scottish Government.
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Citation: Holding M, Dowall SD, Medlock JM, Carter DP, Pullan ST, Lewis J, et al. Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus, United Kingdom. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(1):90-96.
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