Vilibic-Cavlek et al.
Current status of vector-borne diseases in Croatia: Challenges and future prospects
Life (Basel). 2023;13(9):1856. doi:10.3390/life13091856
The distribution of various vector-borne diseases and their medical burden in Croatia have recently been reviewed, among which were TBE virus, West Nile virus, Usutu virus, Toscana virus, sandfly fever virus, Tahyna orthobunyavirus, Bhanja bandavirus, Anaplasma phagocytophylium, Rickettsia conorii, Rickettsia typhi, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and Leishmania spec.
In Croatia, TBE was first described in the northwestern continental region (near Križevci) in 1953. Since 1961, various additional continental TBE foci were identified and also Mediterranean foci near Zadar, Pula and the island of Brač. In 1968, the first TBE cases near Zagreb were reported, and in 1991, TBE foci were notified in a mountainous region between continental and coastal Croatia (Gorski Kotar).
Between 1961 and 1964, a high seroprevalence was found in the region of Stara Ves – 32.14% in humans, 86.96% in horses and 53.73% in cattle. These data were confirmed in 1972, when a seroprevalence (measured by neutralization assay) of 47.50% in humans and 59.73% in animals was detected in the same area. On the island of Brač, seropositivity of 22.43% in humans and 56.09% in sheep were reported. The seropositivity rates in humans were lower in middle Dalmatia (Zadar and Split; 2.41%–2.63%), Hvar (1.15%) and Mljet islands (1.41%).
A small outbreak due to the consumption of non-pasteurized goat milk has been reported in Gorski Kotar in 2019.
TBE virus could be detected in ticks (Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes hexagonus) removed from red fox hunted in northern regions of Croatia. Phylogenetic analyses verified that TBE virus strains belonged to the European subtype.