Enhanced West Nile virus surveillance in the North Kent marshes, UK
Vaux AGC, Gibson G, Hernandez-Triana LM, Cheke RA, McCracken F, Jeffries CL, Horton DL, Springate S, Johnson N, Fooks AR, Leach S, Medlock JM
As part of efforts to more fully understand the potential risks posed by West Nile virus (WNV) and Usutu virus (USUV) in the UK, and following on from previous reports of a potential bridge vector Culex modestus for these viruses, at wetland sites in North Kent, mosquito surveillance was undertaken more widely across the Isle of Sheppey, the Hoo Peninsula and the Kent mainland.
Larval surveys were conducted and Mosquito Magnet® adult traps were used to collect adult mosquitoes. Pools of female mosquitoes were tested for the presence of WNV using real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. A subset of samples was tested for USUV.
Culex modestus was found in both the pre-imaginal and imago stage at all five locations surveyed, accounting for 90% of adult mosquitoes collected. WNV or USUV were not detected in any sample.
Although no mosquitoes have been shown to be virus positive, the field survey data from this study demonstrated the dominance of an important bridge vector species for WNV in this region. Its wide geographical distribution highlights the need to update risk assessments on WNV introduction, and to maintain vigilance for WNV in the South East of England.
Parasites and Vectors
Vector Biology & Climate Modelling