Surveillance of West Nile Virus in Egypt urged after horse study

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A total of 930 horses in Egypt were randomly selected, with several tests used to confirm the seropositive status of the animals.
A total of 930 horses in Egypt were randomly selected, with several tests used to confirm the seropositive status of the animals. Image by Remon Samuel

Researchers are urging intensive surveillance and implementation of effective control and prevention strategies against West Nile Virus in Egypt, after testing for its seroprevalence among 930 horses.

The researchers, writing in the journal Scientific Reports, found that 156 of the animals, or 16.8%, were serologically positive for the mosquito-borne virus, showing that they carried antibodies against the virus.

Abdelfattah Selim and his fellow researchers concentrated their study on the five governorates in the Nile delta region of Egypt with the greatest horse populations.

The 930 horses were randomly selected, with several tests used to confirm the seropositive status of the animals and to avoid cross-reaction with similar viruses.

They found that the highest seroprevalence rate was among horses age 15 or over, at 26.4%, while those of mixed breed had a seroprevalence of 21.5%.

Stallions were more likely than mares to be seropositive. Arabian horses were also more likely to carry antibodies against the virus.

Discussing their findings, the researchers said the virus is known to have been circulating in Egypt since 1951.

They said more studies involving larger sample sizes and a broader geographical area are required to verify the associations found in this study.

“Our findings,” they said, “indicate that intensive surveillance and implementation of effective control and prevention of West Nile infection are urgently required.”

The full study team comprised Abdelfattah Selim, Ameer Megahed and Sahar Kandeel, with Benha University in Egpyt; and Abdulaziz Alouffi and Mashal Almutairi, with King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

Selim, A., Megahed, A., Kandeel, S. et al. West Nile virus seroprevalence and associated risk factors among horses in Egypt. Sci Rep 11, 20932 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-00449-6

The study, published under a Creative Commons License, can be read here

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