Vector monitoring in veterinary and human medicine

The AGES has been monitoring biting gnats in Austria since 2011 in order to gather data on the spread of exotic mosquitoes and new pathogens. Ten years ago, mosquitoes that bite humans (Culicidae, biting gnats) increasingly began to appear north of the Mediterranean area. These mosquitoes can act as a potential vector for viruses that cause disease in both humans and animals. Climate change, travel and global trade are seen as the causes of the spread of gnat populations in the transition area between Southeast and Central Europe, especially along major waterways such as the Danube. It is imperative to prepare for this scenario and to develop suitable prevention methods and measures.

Vectors in human medicine

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) regards the diseases transmitted by mosquitos as highly significant. For this reason, the Centre developed its own “mosquito deadlines” in 2012. With the deadlines, the ECDC aims to assist EU member states in setting up monitoring programmes and in harmonising their data reporting procedures. These measures are taken against the background of people contracting Dengue and Chikungunya fever in Europe itself, i.e. not following a trip abroad. These cases occurred in parts of Europe where the vector (carrier of the pathogen) Aedes albopictus has been detected. The overall objective is to strengthen Europe-wide monitoring of exotic types of mosquitoes such as Aedes albopictus, Aedes aegypti, Aedes atropalpus, Aedes japonicus, Aedes koreicus and Aedes triseriatus.

Vectors in veterinary medicine

Already in the course of the programme “Bluetongue Monitoring Austria 2007-2010”, mosquitoes were counted in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and the Museum of Natural History Vienna (NHM). The goal here was twofold; firstly, early detection of cases of bluetongue (BT), a viral disease which affects cattle, sheep and goats; and secondly, scientific recording of the prevalence of the insects transmitting the disease. Bluetongue is an animal disease which had been confined to Southern European countries, until a BT outbreak occurred in hitherto unaffected parts of Europe (2006 in the Netherlands and later in large parts of Europe including Austria). This monitoring programme provided ample evidence for the existence of mosquitoes and gnats previously not found in Austria. Due to veterinary measures, Austria has been considered BT-free again since March 2011. See final Report (German only) . However, at the end of 2011, an additional animal disease transmitted by gnats appeared in Europe for the first time: caused by the Schmallenberg virus, this disease causes severe deformities in lambs, calves and goat kids. Neither of the two viral infections affects humans. Types of life forms of mosquitoes.