Sandfly-Borne Phlebovirus Isolations From Turkey: New Insight Into the Sandfly Fever Sicilian and Sandfly Fever Naples Species
Erisoz Kasap, Özge
de Lamballerie, Xavier
Charrel, Rémi N.
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Southern Anatolia in Turkey at the border with Syria, where many refugee camps are settled, is endemic for sandfly-borne leishmaniasis. Sandfly-borne phleboviruses are also known to circulate in this region, although their relevance in terms of medical implications is virtually unknown. Therefore, the specific objectives of our study were firstly to identify isolate and characterise potentially pathogenic phleboviruses in sandflies; secondly to determine the complete genomic sequence of any viruses that we were able to isolate; and thirdly, to further our understanding of the potential medical importance and epidemiological significance of these viruses. To achieve these objectives, we organised field campaigns in 2012 and 2013. Two new phleboviruses (Toros and Zerdali viruses) were isolated and characterized by complete genome sequencing and phylogenetic analyses. Toros virus was genetically most closely related to Corfou virus within the Sandfly fever Sicilian group. Zerdali virus was most closely related to Tehran virus within the Sandfly fever Naples species. Although these new viruses belong to genetic groups that include several human pathogens, it is not yet clear if Toros and Zerdali viruses can infect humans and cause disease such as sandfly fever. Consequently, the availability of these genetically characterized infectious viruses will enable seroprevalence studies to establish their medical importance in this region and to assist the health agencies to develop appropriate and effective disease control strategies., We provide evidence that sandfly-borne phleboviruses belonging to 3 distinct genetic and phylogenetic groups (Sandfly fever Naples virus [SFNV], Sandfly fever Sicilian virus [SFSV], and Salehabad virus [SALV]) co-circulate in Adana city, in Mediterranean Turkey. While Adana virus was recently described as a new member of the SALV species, Zerdali and Toros viruses are described here as new phleboviruses genetically closely related to SFNV and SFSV, respectively. In this study, isolated and characterised these two new viruses by determining their complete genome sequence and by phylogenetic analysis. This study demonstrates that 3 distinct viruses can co-circulate in the same geographic area and based on their phylogenetic relationships and association with sandflies are likely to be transmitted by these arthropod vectors. Our molecular and phylogenetic data are important for establishing group-specific molecular detection assays in order to further understand of the possible impact of these viruses in animal and human health in this region of Turkey.