In Austria, little used to be known about the spread and prevalence of exotic mosquitoes associated with climate change. For this reason, AGES set up a gnat monitoring programme to control vectors (carriers) of human viral pathogens such as the West Nile (WVN), Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. Furthermore, the vectors found are, in cooperation with the University for Veterinary Medicine Vienna, also tested for bacterial infections spread by mosquitoes such as tularemia (“rabbit fever”) and for parasitic diseases such as leishmaniosis transmitted by sand flies. Through the programme, mosquitoes are collected and classified at predefined locations. Using biomolecular methods, the level of endemic infection of the gnat populations with the above-mentioned pathogens is then systematically determined. Due to the mosquitoes found and the potential detection of human viral pathogens, data is now available providing information on the risk of transmission, thus possibly enabling further systematic investigation measures.
In all nine federal states, gnats are being caught, by means of special traps, so far at 37 selected locations in cultivated land (i.e. land used for agricultural purposes). The target quantity is about 5,000 mosquitoes per year. Special attention is paid to the search for the species Aedes japonicus (Asian bush mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito). All over Austria, the trap locations have largely been chosen in the typical mosquito habitats, i.e. along rivers and lakes:
- in the east along the Danube, March and Thaya and in the Neusiedler Lake area
- in the south along the Mur and Drau and in the border region with Slovenia
- in the west, in lake areas and in elevated regions