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Mosquito that carries deadly virus discovered

10th February 2012

A species of mosquito capable of transmitting West Nile virus to humans has been found breeding in the UK.

Mosquito

It is the first time the Culex modestus mosquito has been seen in this country since 1945 and researchers are not sure at this stage how long it has been in the UK, though think it arrive quite recently and possibly via international shipping.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, skin rash or swollen lymph glands and it can be fatal if it enters the brain. It usually affects birds, but can be transmitted from birds to humans by the bites of mosquitoes.

Researcher Nick Golding of Oxford University and the Center for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) said the mosquitoes have been found at sites in the marshes of north Kent and south Essex in 2010 and 2011.

Miles Nunn, a molecular parasitologist at CEH who reviewed the findings, said that in continental Europe Culex modestus mosquitoes are able to transmit West Nile virus because the virus can reproduce inside them, and then gets passed on when the mosquito feeds on both humans and birds.

“However, in the UK the mosquitoes biting habits and ability to transmit West Nile virus have yet to be investigated,” he said.

There have been outbreaks of West Nile virus in southern Europe recently.

Oxford University scientists and Health Protection Agency experts are now conducting more studies in an effort to see how widespread the mosquitoes are and whether there is any risk to human health.

 

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Article Information

Title: Mosquito that carries deadly virus discovered
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 21033
Date Added: 10th Feb 2012

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