Emerging Infections

[alle Inhalte aus dem Jahresbericht BNI 2010/2011]

It isn't really new. In the past century malaria and severe dengue outbreaks still occurred in Europe, and in 1870, thousands died from yellow fever in Barcelona.
And yet, the threat of presumed tropical infections feels unexpected in our climates. In the past years Chikungunya appeared in Northern Italy, and in Southern France and Croatia people got infected with the Dengue virus. A frightening example was the rapid spread of the West Nile virus across the USA – so far claiming more than a thousand fatalities.
The reason for this development are mosquitoes, first of all the Asian tiger mosquito (<em>Aedes albopictus</em>) and the Japanese bush mosquito (<em>Ochlerotatus japonicus</em>). They are presently spreading worldwide, over long distances by the international exchange of goods – preferred vehicles are used tyres and flower pots – and locally by trucks. The Japanese bush mosquito has meanwhile firmly nationalised in Germany, it is unclear though whether the German representatives bite humans. More importantly, the Asian tiger mosquito is on its way, some specimens have recently been seen in the Upper Rhine valley.
However, mosquitoes on their own don´t make an epidemic. Only if, in addition, an infected human enters the scene, transmission can proceed. For example the Italian Chikungunya outbreak. The tiger mosquitoes had already settled in the Po basin around 1990 when in 2007 a businessman who came from India fell sick with Chikungunya fever in Ravenna and offered Chigungunya viruses in his blood. He was bitten, and the tiger mosquito transmitted the virus to the next human and so on. Nearly 300 Italians came down with Chikungunya fever.

Tiger Mosquito on german Motorways

The tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is a vector of various viral diseases in the tropics, in particular dengue fever. In the course of international trade, it has spread from Asia over vast parts of the world. It has since settled in several European countries south of the Alps as well.


Distribution of the common Mosquito

The common house mosquito Culex pipiens pipiens (aka Cpp) is one of the most frequently encountered mosquito species in Germany. There are two different biotypes and an additional species named Culex torrentium, whose females cannot be distinguished under the microscope but show different biting behaviour.


Imported epidemics

The Asian bush mosquito (Ochlerotatus japonicus) is known for its capability of transmitting various viruses. It originated in Asia, where it primarily inhabits forested areas in the northern part of Japan and Korea.


Usuto virus antibodies in a german blood donor

Usutu virus was discovered in South Africa and appeared in Europe for the first time in 1996. It affects birds and humans and is transmitted by mosquitoes.


Usutu causes die-off of birds in south western Germany

Usutu virus was discovered in South Africa and appeared in Europe for the first time in 1996. It affects birds and humans and is transmitted by mosquitoes.


Antibodies to Sindbis virus in German blood donors

Sindbis viruses were detected in Africa in the 1950s, later also in Europe where they occur in Sweden and Finland.


German mosquito map

It is Norbert Becker to whom we owe the German mosquito map. He is the scientific director of what may be translated into „community action alliance for mosquito control“ (KABS), which each year clears the Upper Rhine and Neckar valleys from annoying mosquitoes.

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Dr. Jessica Tiedke

Dr. Eleonora Schönherr

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