Western Bluetongue virus serotype 3 in Sardinia, diagnosis and characterization.
Over the last 20 years, Italy has experienced multiple incursions of different serotypes of Bluetongue virus (BTV), a Culicoides-borne arbovirus, the causative agent of bluetongue (BT), a major disease of ruminants. The majority of these incursions originated from Northern Africa, likely because of wind-blown dissemination of infected midges. Here, we report the first identification of BTV-3 in Sardinia, Italy. BTV-3 circulation was evidenced in sentinel animals located in the province of Sud Sardegna on September 19, 2018. Prototype strain BTV-3 SAR2018 was isolated on cell culture. BTV-3 SAR2018 sequence and partial sequences obtained by next-generation sequencing from nucleic acids purified from the isolate and blood samples, respectively, were demonstrated to be almost identical (99-100% of nucleotide identity) to BTV-3 TUN2016 identified in Tunisia in 2016 and 2017, a scenario already observed in past incursions of other BTV serotypes originating from Northern Africa.