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Clin Microbiol Infect 2011; 17: 575–581
Sandfly fever viruses (SFVs) cause febrile diseases as well as aseptic meningitis/encephalitis and include serotypes sandfly fever Sicilian virus (SFSV), sandfly fever Naples virus (SFNV) and Toscana virus (TOSV). Infections are endemic in the Mediterranean basin and data on SFV activity in Turkey are limited. In this study, sera from 1533 blood donors from the Ankara, Konya, Eskisehir and Zonguldak provinces of Turkey were evaluated for SFV exposure by indirect immunofluorescence test (IIFT) and confirmed by virus neutralization test (VNT). One hundred and two patients with central nervous system (CNS) infections of unknown aetiology were also tested via IIFT and real-time reverse-transcription PCR for SFV/TOSV. Rate of overall IgG reactivity in IIFT was 32.9% (505/1533) among blood donors. TOSV exposure was confirmed by VNT in all study regions. Exposure to the recently-identified serotype sandfly fever Turkish virus, as evaluated by VNT, was revealed in Konya and Ankara. SFNV exposure was identified in Konya and SFSV was observed to be present in all regions except Zonguldak. TOSV RNA was detected in 15.7% (16/102) and was accompanied by TOSV IgM in 25% (4/16) of the patients. Partial L and S sequences suggested that TOSV circulating in Turkey can be grouped into TOSV genotype A strains. Exposure to TOSV and other SFV serotypes was revealed in blood donors and CNS infections by TOSV were identified for the first time in Turkey. Infections are observed to be endemic in central Anatolia and should be considered as aetiologic agents in cases/outbreaks of fever and meningoencephalitis.