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Mosquito with the potential to transmit West Nile virus found in Britain

Culex modestus, which has not been seen in Britain since 1945, has been found breeding in the marshes of north Kent and south Essex in the past 2 years. The species is thought to transmit West Nile virus (WNV) to humans during sporadic epidemics in southern Europe, but the disease has never been found in Britain, so the current risk to people living there is not known.

The new species was found during field studies in 2010 and 2011 and it seems likely to have arrived fairly recently. Lead author Nick Golding said, ‘It is unclear how long Culex modestus has been breeding in the UK – the new specimens were found during field studies in 2010 and 2011 – but it seems likely that the species has arrived fairly recently. A handful of individuals were collected on the south coast in the 1940s, but didn’t appear to be an established population. Since those records the species hasn’t been seen again in the UK, until now.’

      Golding N et al. Parasites & Vectors 2012;5(1):32; doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-32

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