new mosquito species, vector of several viruses, discovered in Leuven

new mosquito species, vector of several viruses, discovered in Leuven
new mosquito species, vector of several viruses, discovered in Leuven

In 2018, the Antwerp Tropical Institute discovered a larva of “Culex modestus“in the port of Antwerp. It was then the first trace of this species of mosquito discovered in Belgium. A year later, researchers found a large population in the suburb of Louvain. This is confirmed on Tuesday. the professor of KU Leuven, Leen Delang, after the publication, the day before, of an article in Het Nieuwsblad. Like the common mosquito, the “Culex modestus“is likely to spread Usutuvirus and West Nile virus.

In the summer of 2019, researchers set up mosquito traps in Leuven. “Of the 107 mosquitoes captured, half were from ‘Culex modestus’“, explains Professor Leen Delang of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Transplantation at KU Leuven.”A year later, we set mosquito traps again and found the same population.

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In appearance, the ‘Culex modestus’ is very similar to the common mosquito as most people know it., says Professor Delang.We do not yet know if the bite of this mosquito also causes an itchy rash. It is also not known to what extent the mosquito spreads viruses, more research will be needed to determine this.

Viruses that cause flu symptoms

What is certain is that “Culex modestus” can transmit the Usutu virus and West Nile virus. The first can be particularly dangerous for birds, large populations of blackbirds have already died of this virus in our country. The second causes flu-like symptoms in 20% of those infected. One in 100 people develop serious neurological symptoms, which can be fatal.

Like normal mosquitoes, “culex modestus” lay their eggs in stagnant water to reproduce. Thus, people living near a lake, for example, are more likely to be disturbed by these flying insects.

This summer, new mosquito traps will be installed, notably in Louvain and Liège. In addition, “Culex modestus” mosquitoes will be infected in the laboratory in order to verify to what extent this species can spread viruses.

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