West Nile virus transmission potential in Portugal

José Lourenço*, Sílvia C. Barros, Líbia Zé-Zé, Daniel S.C. Damineli, Marta Giovanetti, Hugo C. Osório, Fátima Amaro, Ana M. Henriques, Fernanda Ramos, Tiago Luís, Margarida D. Duarte, Teresa Fagulha, Maria J. Alves, Uri Obolski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is unclear whether West Nile virus (WNV) circulates endemically in Portugal. Despite the country’s adequate climate for transmission, Portugal has only reported four human WNV infections so far. We performed a review of WNV-related data (1966–2020), explored mosquito (2016–2019) and land type distributions (1992–2019), and used climate data (1981–2019) to estimate WNV transmission suitability in Portugal. Serological and molecular evidence of WNV circulation from animals and vectors was largely restricted to the south. Land type and climate-driven transmission suitability distributions, but not the distribution of WNV-capable vectors, were compatible with the North-South divide present in serological and molecular evidence of WNV circulation. Our study offers a comprehensive, data-informed perspective and review on the past epidemiology, surveillance and climate-driven transmission suitability of WNV in Portugal, highlighting the south as a subregion of importance. Given the recent WNV outbreaks across Europe, our results support a timely change towards local, active surveillance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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