Health for humans, animals & plants

On the trail of mosquitoes and ticks

In a new research project, we are investigating the distribution of different species of mosquitoes and ticks in Austria. Interested parties are invited to bring us ticks, which we will identify and analyse for pathogens.

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Mosquitoes and ticks can transmit many infectious diseases, such as West Nile fever or Lyme disease. They are so-called vectors, i.e. they transport viruses and bacteria from one living organism to another, which is why they are referred to as vector-borne diseases.

Due to global transport, the destruction and modification of natural habitats and, not least, climate change, new species of mosquitoes and ticks are appearing in our country, which can also bring new pathogens with them. Examples include the Asian tiger mosquito, a vector of dengue fever, or the "giant tick" Hyalomma marginatum, which can transmit Crimean-Congo fever. No domestically acquired cases of these diseases have yet been documented in Austria.

Mosquito and tick monitoring research project

An EU co-financed monitoring project entitled "One Health Surveillance and Vector Monitoring for cross-border pathogens", or OH SURVector for short, was launched in January. In this project, we will be focussing on these vectors in the coming years: the aim is to establish a nationwide monitoring system for mosquitoes and ticks, which will enable us to gain new insights into the spread of the various mosquito and tick species in Austria and detect emerging pathogens as quickly as possible. And since mosquitoes and ticks do not respect national borders - and the pathogens certainly do not - we are conducting this research project with partner organisations from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Greece.

In the case of mosquitoes, the focus is on detecting West Nile viruses, which are also transmitted by native mosquito species, and on recording the distribution of formerly exotic mosquito species such as the Asian tiger mosquito in Austria more precisely. The tiger mosquito can now overwinter in our country, and we have found it in an ongoing monitoring programme using egg-laying traps in all federal states. Collecting ticks is not so easy: They are not easy to catch in traps. In addition, the ticks should still be alive in order to analyse them for pathogens such as Borrelia or Crimean-Congo viruses. This part of the research project is therefore designed as a citizen science project. This means that citizens voluntarily participate in scientific processes, such as the collection of vectors.

Co-researchers wanted

Interested parties are invited to bring us the ticks they find, which we will identify and analyse for pathogens. You can find out the best way to do this here. If you think you have discovered a Hyalomma tick ("giant tick") but cannot hand it in to us, you can send us a photo to

A citizen science project already exists for the Asian tiger mosquito and other alien mosquito species: Mosquito Alert makes it easy to report these mosquitoes using a free app.

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