[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recent emergence in Europe of invasive mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease associated with both invasive and native mosquito species has prompted intensified mosquito vector research in most European countries. Central to the efforts are mosquito monitoring and surveillance activities in order to assess the current species occurrence, distribution and, when possible, abundance, in order to permit the early detection of invasive species and the spread of competent vectors. As active mosquito collection, e.g. by trapping adults, dipping preimaginal developmental stages or ovitrapping, is usually cost-, time- and labour-intensive and can cover only small parts of a country, passive data collection approaches are gradually being integrated into monitoring programmes. Thus, scientists in several EU member states have recently initiated programmes for mosquito data collection and analysis that make use of sources other than targeted mosquito collection. While some of them extract mosquito distribution data from zoological databases established in other contexts, community-based approaches built upon the recognition, reporting, collection and submission of mosquito specimens by citizens are becoming more and more popular and increasingly support scientific research. Based on such reports and submissions, new populations, extended or new distribution areas and temporal activity patterns of invasive and native mosquito species were found. In all cases, extensive media work and communication with the participating individuals or groups was fundamental for success. The presented projects demonstrate that passive approaches are powerful tools to survey the mosquito fauna in order to supplement active mosquito surveillance strategies and render them more focused. Their ability to continuously produce biological data permits the early recognition of changes in the mosquito fauna that may have an impact on biting nuisance and the risk of pathogen transmission associated with mosquitoes. International coordination to explore synergies and increase efficiency of passive surveillance programmes across borders needs to be established.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Larvae, pupae and eggs of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus were found in Freiburg, southern Germany, after submission of an adult mosquito specimen from that area to the 'Mückenatlas', a German instrument of passive mosquito surveillance. While previously collected Ae. albopictus in Germany were trapped on, or close to, service stations on motorways, suggesting introduction by vehicles from southern Europe, these new specimens were out of flight distance from the motorway on the one hand and indicate local reproduction on the other. The findings call for a thorough active and passive surveillance in exposed geographic regions such as the relatively warm German Upper Rhine Valley to prevent Ae. albopictus from establishing.
Parasitology Research 12/2014; · 2.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mosquito Aedes japonicus japonicus, originally restricted to temperate East Asia, is now widespread in North America and more recently has become established in Europe. To ascertain the putative number of separate introductions to Europe and examine patterns of expansion we analyzed the genetic makeup of Ae. j. japonicus populations from five cemeteries in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, two western German federal states, as well as of specimens from populations in Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria/Slovenia. To do so, we genotyped individual specimens at seven pre-existing polymorphic microsatellite loci and sequenced part of the nad4 mitochondrial locus. We found evidence of two different genotypic signatures associated with different nad4 mitochondrial haplotypes, indicating at least two genetically differentiated populations of Ae. j. japonicus in Europe (i.e. two distinct genotypes). Belgian, Swiss, and Austrian/Slovenian populations all share the same genotypic signature although they have become differentiated since isolation. Contrary to expectations, the German Ae. j. japonicus are not closely related to those in Belgium which are geographically nearest but are also highly inbred. German populations have a unique genotype but also evidence of mixing between the two genotypes. Also unexpectedly, the populations closest to the center of the German infestation had the highest levels of admixture indicating that separate introductions did not expand and merge but instead their expansion was driven by punctuated human-mediated transport. Critically, the resulting admixed populations have higher genetic diversity and appear invasive as indicated by their increased abundance and recent spread across western Germany.
PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e99093. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After the repeated demonstration of Dirofilaria repens infections in German dogs, D. repens and Dirofilaria immitis DNA was detected in mosquitoes trapped in 2011, 2012 and 2013 in northeastern and southwestern Germany within the framework of culicid monitoring projects. As temperature is the most important factor dictating the extrinsic development of dirofilarial larvae in the potential vector, data of the German Weather Service (DWD) were analysed for the regions where the positive mosquitoes had been collected. Based on the mean daily temperatures recorded by weather stations most closely to the collection sites of the mosquitoes, it can be concluded that the mosquitoes were trapped in time periods that allowed for the completion of the developmental cycle of the worms in the mosquitoes and a subsequent transmission to a vertebrate host. The results of this study confirm the principal climatic suitability of certain German regions for the establishment of natural dirofilarial transmission cycles. Moreover, the theoretical climatic considerations, together with findings of D. repens infections in German dogs and mosquitoes, strongly suggest that the continuing spread of at least D. repens from its traditional habitats in the Mediterranean has reached southwestern and northeastern Germany.
Parasitology Research 06/2014; · 2.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In January 2013, a female mosquito collected during the week 18th-25th July 2012 in Lelystad (The Netherlands) during routine national vector surveillance was morphologically identified and genetically confirmed as the Asian bush mosquito, Aedes japonicus japonicus. In order to assess the extent of the infestation area, subsequent extensive mosquito surveillance in the surrounding area during 2013 consisted of visual inspection of potential habitats and adult trapping in increasing radially around the location of the initial finding. This surveillance confirmed the existence of a widely established population of Ae. j. japonicus in the municipality of Lelystad. Despite this detection, it was decided not to implement any mosquito control measures for two reasons: this would require large scale biocidal treatment and community participation in order to be effective, and this species is not a confirmed vector of disease agents in the field. As an alternative, it was decided that community information would be provided to enable management measures such as larval habitat source reduction.
JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN MOSQUITO CONTROL ASSOCIATION. 04/2014; 32:9-13.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Based primarily on nucleotide polymorphisms in the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) of the ribosomal DNA, Anopheles daciae was recently described as an additional member of the Maculipennis Group of species, separate from Anopheles messeae with which it had previously been confused due to morphological and genetic similarity. Species differentiation between A. messeae and A. daciae was possible only by ITS2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification followed by DNA sequencing or RFLP analysis. In addition to its siblings, Anopheles maculipennis, Anopheles atroparvus and A. messeae, A. daciae has been shown to occur in Germany, although with limited distribution. We here describe additional collection sites for this species in Germany, showing concentrations in East Germany and the northern Upper Rhine Valley in Southwest Germany. A species-specific multiplex PCR assay is presented that is able to differentiate the four Maculipennis Group sibling species occurring in Germany plus Anopheles sacharovi, Anopheles melanoon and Anopheles labranchiae. The correct identification and detailed knowledge of the biology of A. daciae are of relevance since it might be a vector of disease agents, as suggested by the vector potential of its siblings and the recent finding of an A. daciae female infected with Dirofilaria repens in southern Germany.
Parasitology Research 04/2014; · 2.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the past decade, two pathogens transmitted by Culicoides biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae), bluetongue virus and Schmallenberg virus, have caused serious economic losses to the European livestock industry, most notably affecting sheep and cattle. These outbreaks of arboviral disease have highlighted large knowledge gaps on the biology and ecology of indigenous Culicoides species. With these research gaps in mind, and as a means of assessing what potential disease outbreaks to expect in the future, an international workshop was held in May 2013 at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. It brought together research groups from Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and The Netherlands, with diverse backgrounds in vector ecology, epidemiology, entomology, virology, animal health, modelling, and genetics. Here, we report on the key findings of this workshop.
BMC Veterinary Research 03/2014; 10(1):77. · 1.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Asian bush or rock pool mosquito Aedes japonicus japonicus is one of the most expansive culicid species of the world. Being native to East Asia, this species was detected out of its original distribution range for the first time in the early 1990s in New Zealand where it could not establish, though. In 1998, established populations were reported from the eastern US, most likely as a result of introductions several years earlier. After a massive spread the mosquito is now widely distributed in eastern North America including Canada and two US states on the western coast. In the year 2000, it was demonstrated for the first time in Europe, continental France, but could be eliminated. A population that had appeared in Belgium in 2002 was not controlled until 2012 as it did not propagate. In 2008, immature developmental stages were discovered in a large area in northern Switzerland and bordering parts of Germany. Subsequent studies in Germany showed a wide distribution and several populations of the mosquito in various federal states. Also in 2011, the species was found in southeastern Austria (Styria) and neighbouring Slovenia. In 2013, a population was detected in the Central Netherlands, specimens were collected in southern Alsace, France, and the complete northeastern part of Slovenia was found colonized, with specimens also present across borders in adjacent Croatia. Apparently, at the end of 2013 a total of six populations occurred in Europe although it is not clear whether all of them are completely isolated. Similarly, it is not known whether these populations go back to the same number of introductions. While entry ports and long-distance continental migration routes are also obscure, it is likely that the international used tyre trade is the most important mode of intercontinental transportation of the mosquito. Aedes j. japonicus does not only display an aggressive biting behaviour but is suspected to be a vector of various disease agents and to displace indigenous culicid species. Therefore, Aedes j. japonicus might both cause public health problems in the future and have a significant impact on the biodiversity of the invaded territories.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As a result of globalization and climate change, Dirofilaria immitis and Dirofilaria repens, the causative agents of dirofilariosis in Europe, continue to spread from endemic areas in the Mediterranean to northern and northeastern regions of Europe where autochthonous cases of dirofilarial infections have increasingly been observed in dogs and humans. Whilst D. repens was recently reported from mosquitoes in putatively non-endemic areas, D. immitis has never been demonstrated in mosquitoes from Europe outside the Mediterranean.
From 2011 to 2013, mosquitoes collected within the framework of a German national mosquito monitoring programme were screened for filarial nematodes using a newly designed filarioid-specific real-time PCR assay. Positive samples were further processed by conventional PCR amplification of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene, amplicons were sequenced and sequences blasted against GenBank.
Approximately 17,000 female mosquitoes were subjected to filarial screening. Out of 955 pools examined, nine tested positive for filariae. Two of the COI sequences indicated D. immitis, one D. repens and four Setaria tundra. Two sequences could not be assigned to a known species due to a lack of similar GenBank entries. Whilst D. immitis and the unknown parasites were detected in Culex pipiens/torrentium, D. repens was found in a single Anopheles daciae and all S. tundra were demonstrated in Aedes vexans. All positive mosquitoes were collected between mid-June and early September.
The finding of dirofilariae in German mosquitoes implies the possibility of a local natural transmission cycle. While the routes of introduction to Germany and the origin of the filariae cannot be determined retrospectively, potential culicid vectors and reservoir hosts must prospectively be identified and awareness among physicians, veterinarians and public health personnel be created. The health impact of S. tundra on the indigenous cervid fauna needs further investigation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although very rare under natural conditions, anomalies of phenotypic sexual expression have been described for individuals of numerous families of the Diptera, including mosquitoes (Culicidae). Gynandromorphism and intersexualism are sexual aberrations generating individuals either with both male and female or with intermediate sexual characteristics. Here we describe five cases of gynandromorphism in three mosquito species. In addition, a list of species of the family Culicidae for which gynandromorphs and intersexes have been described in the literature is compiled.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biting midges of the genus Culicoides (Diptera, Ceratopogonidae) are biological vectors of internationally important arboviruses. To understand the role of Culicoides in the transmission of these viruses, it is essential to correctly identify the species involved. Within the western Palaearctic region, the main suspected vector species, C. obsoletus, C. scoticus, C. dewulfi and C. chiopterus, have similar wing patterns, which makes it difficult to separate and identify them correctly.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A wide range of arthropod-borne viruses threaten both human and animal health either through their presence in Europe or through risk of introduction. Prominent among these is West Nile virus (WNV), primarily an avian virus, which has caused multiple outbreaks associated with human and equine mortality. Endemic outbreaks of West Nile fever have been reported in Italy, Greece, France, Romania, Hungary, Russia and Spain, with further spread expected. Most outbreaks in Western Europe have been due to infection with WNV Lineage 1. In Eastern Europe WNV Lineage 2 has been responsible for human and bird mortality, particularly in Greece, which has experienced extensive outbreaks over three consecutive years. Italy has experienced co-circulation with both virus lineages. The ability to manage this threat in a cost-effective way is dependent on early detection. Targeted surveillance for pathogens within mosquito populations offers the ability to detect viruses prior to their emergence in livestock, equine species or human populations. In addition, it can establish a baseline of mosquito-borne virus activity and allow monitoring of change to this over time. Early detection offers the opportunity to raise disease awareness, initiate vector control and preventative vaccination, now available for horses, and encourage personal protection against mosquito bites. This would have major benefits through financial savings and reduction in equid morbidity/mortality. However, effective surveillance that predicts virus outbreaks is challenged by a range of factors including limited resources, variation in mosquito capture rates (too few or too many), difficulties in mosquito identification, often reliant on specialist entomologists, and the sensitive, rapid detection of viruses in mosquito pools. Surveillance for WNV and other arboviruses within mosquito populations varies between European countries in the extent and focus of the surveillance. This study reviews the current status of WNV in mosquito populations across Europe and how this is informing our understanding of virus epidemiology. Key findings such as detection of virus, presence of vector species and invasive mosquito species are summarized, and some of the difficulties encountered when applying a cost-effective surveillance programme are highlighted.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10/2013; 10(10):4869-95. · 1.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After its first detection in 2008 in the south German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, another distinct population of the invasive Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus japonicus was unexpectedly found in western Germany in 2012. Range expansion had already been observed for the southern German population and was anticipated for the western German one. Here, we report on a third, apparently independent and even more northerly German colonization area of Aedes j. japonicus in southern Lower Saxony and northeastern North Rhine-Westphalia, which was discovered in spring 2013. In a snapshot study, intended to determine the presence or absence of Aedes j. japonicus in an area close to Hanover, the capital of the northern German federal state of Lower Saxony, where a specimen had been collected in late 2012, central water basins of cemeteries were checked for pre-imaginal mosquito stages at the beginning of the mosquito season 2013. Almost 20 % of the inspected cemeteries were found positive (25 out of 129), with many of them being located in towns and villages close to the motorways A2 and A7. Being of Far Eastern origin, the Asian bush mosquito is well adapted to moderate climates and appears to be further expanding its distribution area in Central Europe. As it is a proven laboratory vector of several mosquito-borne disease agents, its present and future distribution areas should be carefully monitored.
Parasitology Research 08/2013; · 2.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The Asian bush mosquito, Aedes japonicus japonicus, a potential vector of several viruses, was first detected in Germany in 2008 on the Swiss-German border. In the following years, this invasive species apparently succeeded in establishing populations in southern Germany and in spreading northwards. In 2011, its distribution area already covered large areas of the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg, and its northernmost German collection point was reported to be close to Stuttgart. Several independent submissions to our laboratories of Ae. j. japonicus specimens in July 2012, originating from the same area in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany, prompted us to carry out an immediate surveillance in this region in the expectation of finding a further distribution focus of Ae. j. japonicus in Germany. METHODS: After inspecting the places of residence of the collectors of the submitted mosquito specimens, all kinds of water containers in 123 cemeteries in surrounding towns and villages were checked for mosquito developmental stages. These were collected and kept to produce adults for morphological species identification. One specimen per collection site was identified genetically by COI sequence analysis. RESULTS: Aedes j. japonicus adults and immature stages were found in 36 towns/villages that were checked (29%) over an area of approximately 2,000 km2 in southern North Rhine-Westphalia and northern Rhineland Palatinate. The species could not be demonstrated further south when monitoring towards the northernmost previous collection sites in southern Germany. It therefore remains to be elucidated whether the species has entered western Germany from the south, from Belgium in the west where it has been demonstrated to occur locally since 2002, or through a new introduction. CONCLUSIONS: Aedes j. japonicus is obviously much more widely distributed in Germany than previously thought. It appears to be well adapted, to have a strong expansion tendency and to replace indigenous mosquito species. Thus, a further spread is anticipated and elimination seems hardly possible anymore. The vector potency of the species should be reason enough to thoroughly monitor its future development in Germany.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Anopheles daciae, a newly described member of the Maculipennis group, was recently reported from western, southern and eastern Europe. Before its recognition, it had commonly been listed under the name of An. messeae, due to its extreme morphological and genetic similarities. As the sibling species of the Maculipennis group are known to differ in their vector competences for malaria parasites and other pathogens, the occurrence of An. daciae in a given region might have an impact on the epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquito collections from different localities in Germany were therefore screened for An. daciae. METHODS: Adult and immature Maculipennis group mosquitoes were collected between May 2011 and June 2012 at 23 different sites in eight federal states of Germany. A standard PCR assay was used to differentiate the previously known sibling species while the ITS2 rDNA of specimens preliminarily identified as An. messeae/daciae was sequenced and analysed for species-specific nucleotide differences. RESULTS: Four hundred and seventy-seven Anopheles specimens were successively identified to Maculipennis group level by morphology and to species level by DNA-based methods. Four species of the Maculipennis group were registered: An. messeae (n = 384), An. maculipennis (n = 82), An. daciae (n = 10) and An. atroparvus (n = 1). Anopheles daciae occurred at four sites in three federal states of Germany, three of the sites being located in north-eastern Germany (federal states of Brandenburg and Saxony) while one collection site was situated in the northern Upper Rhine Valley in the federal state of Hesse, south-western Germany. CONCLUSIONS: The detection of An. daciae represents the first recognition of this species in Germany where it was found to occur in sympatry with An. messeae and An. maculipennis. As the collection sites were in both north-eastern and south-western parts of Germany, the species is probably even more widely distributed in Germany than demonstrated, albeit apparently with low population densities. Research is needed that confirms the species status of An. daciae and elucidates its vector competence as compared to An. messeae and the other species of the Maculipennis group, in order to optimize management of possible future outbreaks of diseases caused by pathogen transmission through Maculipennis group mosquitoes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After two previous demonstrations of introductions of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, into southern Germany in 2007 and 2011, another three specimens were trapped in the city of Freiburg in the Upper Rhine Valley. The females were caught in early September 2011 (n = 2) and mid-July 2012 (n = 1). The trap was located at a railway container station where cargo is transferred to trains from trucks predominantly coming from southern Europe where A. albopictus is widely distributed. The reported findings confirm vehicle transport of A. albopictus to be an important and probably frequent mode of importation, and suggest that more regular and intense monitoring for invasive mosquito species in the Upper Rhine Valley should be undertaken in order to detect an establishment and implement adequate control measures in good time.
Parasitology Research 09/2012; · 2.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Biting midges of the Obsoletus species complex of the ceratopogonid genus Culicoides were assumed to be the major vectors of bluetongue virus (BTV) in northern and central Europe during the 2006 outbreak of bluetongue disease (BT). Most recently, field specimens of the same group of species have also been shown to be infected with the newly emerged Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in Europe. A reliable identification of the cryptic species of this group is fundamental for both understanding the epidemiology of the diseases and for targeted vector control. In the absence of classical morphological characters unambiguously identifying the species, DNA sequence-based tests have been established for the distinction of selected species in some parts of Europe. Since specificity and sensitivity of these tests have been shown to be in need of improvement, an alternative PCR assay targeting the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene was developed for the identification of the three Obsoletus complex species endemic to Germany (C. obsoletus, C. scoticus, C. chiopterus) plus the isomorphic species C. dewulfi. METHODS: Biting midges of the genus Culicoides caught by UV light traps all over Germany were morphologically pre-identified to species or complex level. The COI region was amplified from their extracted DNA and sequenced. Final species assignment was done by sequence comparison to GenBank entries and to morphologically identified males. Species-specific consensus sequences were aligned and polymorphisms were utilized to design species-specific primers to PCR-identify specimens when combined with a universal primer. RESULTS: The newly developed multiplex PCR assay was successfully tested on genetically defined Obsoletus complex material as well as on morphologically pre-identified field material. The intended major advantage of the assay as compared to other PCR approaches, namely the production of only one single characteristic band for each species, could be realized with high specificity and sensitivity. CONCLUSION: To elucidate the biological characteristics of potential vectors of disease agents, such as ecology, behaviour and vector competence, and the role of these haematophagous arthropods in the epidemiology of the diseases, simple, cost-effective and, most importantly, reliable identification techniques are necessary. The PCR assay presented will help to identify culicoid vector species and therefore add to bluetongue and Schmallenberg disease research including vector control and monitoring.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) of crude bacterial samples has been introduced as a very cost-efficient and rapid, yet highly informative tool to identify and classify bacteria. The potential of this approach to characterize whole animals, so far preferentially insects, is only evolving. Here, a simple protocol was developed to perform MALDI-MS analysis on extracts from whole ticks of 7 species and 4 developmental stages. Using commercially available software designed for the identification of bacteria, a reference database of spectra was constructed that allowed the species determination of ticks using larvae, nymphs, or adult individuals as starting material. Cluster analysis on the basis of MALDI mass spectra indicated that the primary determinant for the mass spectra was the species, followed by the developmental stages, which formed distinct clusters within the given species. With certain limitations, species identification was also possible using body parts and engorged animals. Spectra of developing Ixodes ricinus eggs showed dramatic changes with time, suggesting that, beyond its usefulness for species determination, MALDI-typing may have applications in developmental biology.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 04/2012; 3(2):78-89. · 2.35 Impact Factor