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Seroprevalence and Risk Factors Associated with Phleboviruses and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus among Blood Donors in Central Tunisia.

Pathogens 2024 April 23
The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of six viruses, from two families of the order Bunyavirales , in the general population of central Tunisia. Sera collected from 377 asymptomatic blood donors were serologically assayed for Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV), and four sandfly-borne phleboviruses: Toscana virus (TOSV), sandfly fever Naples virus (SFNV), sandfly fever Sicilian virus (SFSV), and sandfly fever Cyprus virus (SFCV). Of the 377 subjects enrolled in this study, 17.3% were IgG positive for at least one of the viruses tested. The most frequently detected antibodies were against TOSV (13.3%), followed by SFCV (2.9%), RVFV (1.9%), SFSV (1.3%), and SFNV (1.1%). Only one sample was IgG positive for CCHFV. Dual reactivity was observed in nine cases: SFSV + SFCV in three cases (0.8%) and TOSV + SFNV, TOSV + SFCV, and TOSV + RVFV in two cases (0.5%) each. 15.9% of donors were IgG positive against sandfly-borne phleboviruses. Among the 65 donors IgG positive for phleboviruses, 50.8% were from rural areas compared to 12.3% from urban areas ( p < 0.001); 92.3% had animals in their living quarters ( p = 0.009); and 70.8% lived in the vicinity of stagnant water ( p = 0.062). Seroprevalence was significantly higher among donors living with chronic diseases ( p = 0.039). Furthermore, the seroprevalence of phleboviruses was higher in Kairouan, the central governorate, than in the two coastal governorates: Monastir and Sousse, with 33.4%, 24.2%, and 14.9%, respectively. The presence of antibodies in the general population needs further investigation to better assess the extent of these viruses. Only TOSV was known to have an extensive circulation in Tunisia and in North Africa. Continued surveillance and interventions are necessary to detect the emergence of all arboviruses and to prevent further transmission.

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