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Evidence of mosquito-transmitted flavivirus circulation in Piedmont, north-western Italy
Francesco Cerutti, Mario Giacobini, Andrea Mosca, Ivan Grasso, Luisa Rambozzi, Luca Rossi, Luigi Bertolotti
Parasites & Vectors , 2012, DOI: 10.1186/1756-3305-5-99
Abstract: In order to clarify the diffusion and the distribution of the mosquito-transmitted flaviviruses in Italy, we analyzed Culex and Ochlerotatus mosquitoes collected in 2009 and 2010 in an area divided evenly between hills and plains and where the landscape is dominated by mixed agricultural patches, rice fields, deciduous tree forests, and urban environments. Each mosquito pool was tested for the presence of Flavivirus strains and we characterized positive samples by genetic sequencing.Positive mosquito pools revealed low infection prevalence, but suggested a continuous circulation of both Usutu virus and insect Flavivirus. Interestingly, phylogenetic analyses based on NS5 gene partial sequences showed a closer relationship among new Usutu virus strains from Piedmont and the reference sequences from the Eastern Europe, with respect to Italian samples characterized so far. Moreover, NS5 gene phylogeny suggested that mosquito flaviviruses found in Italy could belong to different lineages.Our results contribute to a wider point of view on the heterogeneity of viruses infecting mosquitoes suggesting a taxonomical revision of the Mosquito-borne Flavivirus group.
Impact of North-South Shift of Azores High on Summer Precipitation over North West Europe  [PDF]
Shahnaz Ali Rashid, Muhammad J. Iqbal, Muhammad A. Hussain
International Journal of Geosciences (IJG) , 2012, DOI: 10.4236/ijg.2012.325099
Abstract: Several Studies demonstrate that North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) influences variability of climate over Europe. As NAO is has significant influence on climate of Europe during boreal cold season (November to April), we use the centers of action approach for the study of summer precipitation (June to August) variability over Europe, taking into account variations in the components of the NAO North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the Azores High and the Icelandic Low pressure systems. This study shows that north-south shifts of the Azores High has significant impact on interannual variations of summer precipitation over North West Europe, there being more precipitation when the Azores High shifts southward versus when it is northward. Thus this article demonstrate that when the Azores High system is to the south there is flux of moist and warm air from the Atlantic into NW Europe. We present a regression model for summer precipitation over North-west in which the Azores High latitude and the Icelandic low longitude are independent variables and it explains 53 percent of the variance of precipitation during 1952-2002, a significant enhancement over the NAO value of R2 = 0.10.
Pliocene foraminifera of Piedmont (north-western Italy): a synthesis of recent studies
Donata Violanti
Museologia Scientifica e Naturalistica , 2005,
Abstract: A synthesis of recent biostratigraphical and palaeoenvironmental studies on foraminifera assemblages of he Piedmont Pliocene (north-astern Monferrato, Astigiano, Langhe and Monregalese) is discussed. In the region, biozone MPl1 is documented by typical Sphaeroidinellopsis assemblages only in its central area. Rich and diversified assemblages of MPl2 biozone, with Globorotalia margaritae Bolli & Bermudez, and MPl3 biozone, with G. margaritae and G. puncticulata (Deshayes), are indicative of the upper epibathyal zone, and suggest palaeoenvironmental conditions similar to those of coeval pelagic successions of Sicily and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Already along biozone MPl3, and chiefly biozone MPl4, with G. puncticulata, less diversified assemblages become more widespread, indicating shelf palaeoenvironments, subject to heavy transport of displaced foraminifera from more inner neritic zones. In the study area most inner neritic and shallow outer neritic microfaunas are devoid of biostratigraphic markers; only few silty sediments yield Bulimina basispinosa Tedeschi & Zanmatti and Globobulimina ovula (d’Orbigny), reported from the Middle Pliocene, and can be correlated to the MPl5 biozone.
Spatio-temporal patterns of distribution of West Nile virus vectors in eastern Piedmont Region, Italy
Donal Bisanzio, Mario Giacobini, Luigi Bertolotti, Andrea Mosca, Luca Balbo, Uriel Kitron, Gonzalo M Vazquez-Prokopec
Parasites & Vectors , 2011, DOI: 10.1186/1756-3305-4-230
Abstract: The highest abundance and significant spatial clusters of Oc. caspius and Cx. modestus were in proximity to rice fields, and for Cx. pipiens, in proximity to highly populated urban areas. The GLMM model showed the importance of weather conditions and environmental factors in predicting mosquito abundance. Distance from the preferential breeding sites and elevation were negatively associated with the number of collected mosquitoes. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was positively correlated with mosquito abundance in rice fields (Oc. caspius and Cx. modestus). Based on the best models, we developed prediction maps for the year 2010 outlining the areas where high abundance of vectors could favour the introduction and amplification of WNV.Our findings provide useful information for surveillance activities aiming to identify locations where the potential for WNV introduction and local transmission are highest. Such information can be used by vector control offices to stratify control interventions in areas prone to the invasion of WNV and other mosquito-transmitted pathogens.West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus (family Flaviviridae) and a neuropathogen for humans, horses, and birds [1]. The virus is indigenous to the Old World, and is maintained in a bird-mosquito transmission cycle primarily involving Culex spp. mosquitoes. Humans, horses and other mammals are dead-end hosts for the virus [2]. Neurological human manifestations (< 1% of all cases) are associated with severe morbidity and can be fatal [3]. Early reports of WNV human infections date from the late 1930's in Africa [4]. However, a dramatic expansion of the virus was registered in recent decades, with infections reported in Asia, Europe, and, since 1999, in the New World [5,6]. Early reports of human and equine WNV infection in Europe date from 1964 in the Camargue region, France [7]. Since then the virus has spread throughout Europe, showing an erratic temporal and spatial pattern
Large Human Outbreak of West Nile Virus Infection in North-Eastern Italy in 2012  [PDF]
Luisa Barzon,Monia Pacenti,Elisa Franchin,Silvana Pagni,Enrico Lavezzo,Laura Squarzon,Thomas Martello,Francesca Russo,Loredana Nicoletti,Giovanni Rezza,Concetta Castilletti,Maria Rosaria Capobianchi,Pasquale Salcuni,Margherita Cattai,Riccardo Cusinato,Giorgio Palù
Viruses , 2013, DOI: 10.3390/v5112825
Abstract: Human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) disease have been reported in Italy since 2008. So far, most cases have been identified in north-eastern Italy, where, in 2012, the largest outbreak of WNV infection ever recorded in Italy occurred. Most cases of the 2012 outbreak were identified in the Veneto region, where a special surveillance plan for West Nile fever was in place. In this outbreak, 25 cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease and 17 cases of fever were confirmed. In addition, 14 WNV RNA-positive blood donors were identified by screening of blood and organ donations and two cases of asymptomatic infection were diagnosed by active surveillance of subjects at risk of WNV exposure. Two cases of death due to WNND were reported. Molecular testing demonstrated the presence of WNV lineage 1 in all WNV RNA-positive patients and, in 15 cases, infection by the novel Livenza strain was ascertained. Surveillance in other Italian regions notified one case of neuroinvasive disease in the south of Italy and two cases in Sardinia. Integrated surveillance for WNV infection remains a public health priority in Italy and vector control activities have been strengthened in areas of WNV circulation.
Lead monitoring in Mugil cephalus (North-West Mediterranean, Italy)
Stefania Squadrone,Marino Prearo,Daniela Marchis,Stefania Gavinelli
Italian Journal of Food Safety , 2013, DOI: 10.4081/ijfs.2012.6.1
Abstract: The concentrations of Lead (Pb) in muscles of flathead mullet (Mugil cephalus) collected from Bocca di Magra, La Spezia (Ligurian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Italy), were determined after microwave digestion by atomic absorption spectrometry and electrothermal atomisation (ETA-AAS). The average Pb concentration was 0.082 ppm and the levels varied in the following ranges: 0.020-0.240 ppm. None of the 63 tested samples exceeded the European regulatory limits fixed by 1881/2006/UE and 420/2011/UE. The estimated weekly intakes by humans were also evaluated for possible consumers healthy risks. Pb concentrations in fish muscles were in 59% of cases higher than Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) set by JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) in 1993 and corresponding to 0.025 mg/kg body weight. In fact, in 37 out of 63 analysed samples the Pb level was higher than 0.06 mg/kg.
Fire Weather Index application in north-western Italy
D. Cane, N. Ciccarelli, F. Gottero, A. Francesetti, F. Pelfini,R. Pelosini
Advances in Science and Research (ASR) , 2008, DOI: 10.5194/asr-2-77-2008
Abstract: Piedmont region is located in North-Western Italy and is surrounded by the alpine chain and by the Appennines. The region is covered by a wide extension of forests, mainly in its mountain areas (the forests cover 36% of the regional territory). Forested areas are interested by wildfire events. In the period 1997–2005 Piedmont was interested by an average 387 forest fires per year, covering an average 1926 ha of forest per year. Meteorological conditions like long periods without precipitation contribute to create favourable conditions to forest fire development, while the fire propagation is made easier by the foehn winds, frequently interesting the region in winter and spring particularly. The meteorological danger index FWI (Fire Weather Index) was developed by Van Wagner (1987) for the Canadian Forestry Service, providing a complete description of the behaviour of the different forest components in response to the changing weather conditions. We applied the FWI to the Piedmont region on warning areas previously defined for fire management purposes. The meteorological data-set is based on the data of the very-dense non-GTS network of weather stations managed by Arpa Piemonte. The thresholds for the definition of a danger scenarios system were defined comparing historical FWI data with fires occurred on a 5 years period. The implementation of a prognostic FWI prediction system is planned for the early 2008, involving the use of good forecasts of weather parameters at the station locations obtained by the Multimodel SuperEnsemble post-processing technique.
Food habits of the stone marten Martes foina in "La Mandria" Regional Park (Piedmont Region, North-Western Italy)
Sandro Bertolino,Bruno Dore
Hystrix : the Italian Journal of Mammalogy , 1995, DOI: 10.4404/hystrix-7.1-2-4058
Abstract: The diet of the stone marten (Martes foina) was studied by the analysis of 215 scats gathered during 1990 and 1991 in "La Mandria" Regional Park (north-western Italy). The results were expressed as percentage frequency of occurrence [F% = (number of occurrences of each food/number of scats) x 100] and relative percentage of frequency [Fr% = (number of occurrences of each food/total number of prey items) x 100]. Mammals were the predominant food category in each season (annual mean in Fr% = 60.5) and were mainly represented by rodents (Fr% = 44.8) and lagomorphs (Fr% = 15.4). Myoxus glis was the most preyed species (Fr% = 15.7) and its use was higher in autumn than in other seasons. Vegetables, mainly Rosaceae and Vitis vinifera fruits, were an important food resource in summer (Fr% = 41.1) and in autumn (Fr% = 17.2). Birds integrated the stone marten's diet mainly in winter (Fr% = 22.6), while insects were scarcely consumed throughout the year (Fr% = 4.3). Riassunto Alimentazione della faina Martes foina nel Parco regionale "La Mandria" (Torino) - La dieta della faina (Martes foina) è stata studiata analizzando 215 feci raccolte negli anni 1990-91 nel Parco Regionale "La Mandria" (Italia nord occidentale). I risultati ottenuti sono stati espressi come frequenza percentuale [F% = (numero di presenze di una componente alimentare/numero delle feci esaminate) x 100] e frequenza relativa percentuale [Fr% = (numero di presenze di una componente alimentare/numero totale di componenti alimentari rinvenute) x 100]. I mammiferi, rappresentati soprattutto da roditori (Fr% = 44,8) e lagomorfi (Fr% = 15,4), sono risultati la categoria alimentare più importante in ogni stagione (media annuale della Fr% = 60,5). Myoxus glis è risultata la specie più predata con un consumo più elevato in autunno rispetto alle altre stagioni. I vegetali, rappresentati soprattutto da frutti delle Rosaceae e da Vitis vinifera, sono particolarmente importanti in estate (Fr% = 41,1) e secondariamente in autunno (Fr% = 17,2). Gli uccelli costituiscono una risorsa integrativa della dieta invernale (Fr% = 22,6), mentre gli insetti sono scarsamente consumati nel corso dell'anno (Fr% = 4,3).
Tree encroachment dynamics in heathlands of north-west Italy: the fire regime hypothesis
Ascoli D,Bovio G
iForest : Biogeosciences and Forestry , 2010, DOI: 10.3832/ifor0548-003
Abstract: Tree encroachment is one of the primary conservation issues in Calluna-heathlands, a priority habitat in Europe. Improving understanding of the ecological factors that trigger transitions to woodlands is key to developing strategies for heathlands management. The irrational use of fire has been recognized as one of the key factors that drives the loss of heathlands of north-west Italy. The effect of high frequency pastoral burning on the replacement of heathlands by grasslands has been documented by several studies. The relationship between fire and tree encroachment is less clear. The paper examines the effect of the fire regime on the encroachment of Populus tremula L. and Betula pendula Roth. in the heathland. The study was carried out at the Managed Nature Reserve of Vauda (7° 41’ E, 45° 13’ N), which includes one of the most valuable heathlands of north-western Italy. The experimental design consisted of analysing the age structure, dendrometric variables and the species composition of three aspen and birch stands, circular-shaped and isolated within the heathland matrix. From 1986 to 2009 all stands experienced the same fire regime due to pastoral burning. Wildfires of similar behaviour occurred in 1998, 2003 and 2008 and determined the stand structure observed in 2009. The results evidenced that fire acts as a catalyst not only for seedlings establishment, as previously documented, but also for woodland expansion in the heathland. After initial establishment, stands showed a concentric encroachment dynamic, mainly due to aspen root suckering after post-fire stem mortality, whose steps of expansion coincided with the return interval of wildfires. Moreover, aspen determined the loss of heathland characteristic species, whose relative abundances were inversely correlated to aspen density along a gradient from the stands centre to the surrounding heathland. The regulation of current burning practices by prescribed burning, integrated with rational grazing, presents the next research questions to be addressed.
Decreasing Frequency of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw in Cancer and Myeloma Patients Treated with Bisphosphonates: The Experience of the Oncology Network of Piedmont and Aosta Valley (North-Western Italy)  [PDF]
Vittorio Fusco,Claudia Galassi,Alfredo Berruti,Cinzia Ortega,Libero Ciuffreda,Matteo Scoletta,Franco Goia,Mario Migliario,Anna Baraldi,Mario Boccadoro,Anastasios Loidoris,Oscar Bertetto
ISRN Oncology , 2013, DOI: 10.1155/2013/672027
Abstract: Background. Data concerning frequency of Osteonecrosis of Jaws (ONJ) are mostly based on single center experiences. Patients and Methods. Since 2005 a multidisciplinary study group collected data of cases of ONJ in patients treated with Bisphosphonates (BP) and observed in oncology and hematology centers of a regional network. Results. By December 2008, 221 cases were registered. We report details of 200 cases, identified after cross-checking reports from centres of medical oncology, haematology, and oral care. Primary neoplasm was breast cancer (39%), myeloma (32%), prostate cancer (16%), and other types of cancer (8%). In about 50% of the cases a history of dental extraction was present. Zoledronic acid was administered (alone or with other BP) to 178 patients (89%). Median time from first infusion to ONJ diagnosis was 21.0 (zoledronic acid only) and 39.0 months (pamidronate only). The number of ONJ cases per year was 3 in 2003, 21 in 2004, 58 in 2005, 60 in 2006, 37 in 2007, and 21 in 2008. Conclusion. The number of new ONJ cases in cancer and myeloma patients increased until 2006 and then reduced. The possible reasons of this trend (introduction of zoledronic acid; increase of ONJ awareness; diffusion of preventive dental measures; late modifications of BP prescription) are herein discussed. 1. Introduction Bisphosphonates (BPs) are widely prescribed at different doses, way of administration (oral versus IV) and treatment durations, for a range of bone diseases including cancer-induced bone disease, osteoporosis, and Paget’s disease. Most of IV prescriptions of more potent BPs are written for patients affected by myeloma or bone metastases from solid cancer [1]. Despite the optimal duration of treatment with BPs is unknown, several recommendations and position papers suggested in the past that administration of BP should be carried on indefinitely [2–4]. Osteonecrosis of the Jaws (ONJ) was first reported in patients treated with BPs in North American literature in 2003 [5, 6]. Ever since a large amount of case reports and case series have been published worldwide [6, 7], although, quite surprisingly, no cases were reported in previously published randomized controlled trials (RCT) that led to the introduction of BP in the therapy armamentarium. The paucity of data from well-designed prospective trials do not allow to estimate the precise incidence of ONJ among subjects exposed to BPs [8–11]. According to several published reports (cohort studies, case series, usually based on single centre experience), the frequency of ONJ in cancer patients

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