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First report on entomological field activities for the surveillance of West Nile disease in Italy

Author(s): Luciano Toma | Micaela Cipriani | Maria Goffredo | Roberto Romi | Rossella Lelli

Journal: Veterinaria Italiana
ISSN 0505-401X

Volume: 44;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 499;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Culex pipiens | Italy | Monitoring | Mosquito | West Nile | Surveillance | Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is neuropathogenic for birds, horses and humans and is maintained in natural cycles between birds and mosquitoes, particularly the Culex genus; horses and humans are considered to be incidental hosts. A surveillance plan was implemented in Italy in 1998, following a limited outbreak of WNV equine encephalomyelitis and a WNV outbreak in France very close to the Italian border. This plan to assess the risks of the virus being introduced again included entomological surveillance performed in 15 study areas considered ‘at risk’ of WNV introduction in the country. Entomological surveys conducted in Italy from 2003 to 2007 resulted in the capture of a total of 28 798 mosquitoes, of which there were 14 765 adults and 14 033 larvae belonging to 22 species. According to the literature, eight of the species identified have been found to be naturally infected with WNV or were successfully infected in the laboratory in some parts of Europe and in the United States, namely: Aedes albopictus (Skuse, 1897) (= Stegomiya albopicta), Aedes vexans (Meigen, 1830), Anopheles maculipennis Meigen, 1818, Coquillettidia richiardii (Ficalbi, 1889), Culex modestus Ficalbi, 1889, Culex pipiens Linnaeus, 1758, Culex theileri Theobald, 1903 and Ochlerotatus caspius (Pallas, 1771) (= Aedes caspius).
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