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Open Access Research

A new focus of Aedes japonicus japonicus (Theobald, 1901) (Diptera, Culicidae) distribution in Western Germany: rapid spread or a further introduction event?

Helge Kampen1*, Dorothee Zielke2 and Doreen Werner2

Author Affiliations

1 Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Suedufer 10, Greifswald, Insel Riems, 17493, Germany

2 Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Eberswalder Str. 84, Muencheberg, 15374, Germany

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Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:284  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-284

Published: 7 December 2012

Abstract

Background

The Asian bush mosquito, Aedes japonicus japonicus, a potential vector of several viruses, was first detected in Germany in 2008 on the Swiss-German border. In the following years, this invasive species apparently succeeded in establishing populations in southern Germany and in spreading northwards. In 2011, its distribution area already covered large areas of the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg, and its northernmost German collection point was reported to be close to Stuttgart. Several independent submissions to our laboratories of Ae. j. japonicus specimens in July 2012, originating from the same area in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany, prompted us to carry out an immediate surveillance in this region in the expectation of finding a further distribution focus of Ae. j. japonicus in Germany.

Methods

After inspecting the places of residence of the collectors of the submitted mosquito specimens, all kinds of water containers in 123 cemeteries in surrounding towns and villages were checked for mosquito developmental stages. These were collected and kept to produce adults for morphological species identification. One specimen per collection site was identified genetically by COI sequence analysis.

Results

Aedes j. japonicus adults and immature stages were found in 36 towns/villages that were checked (29%) over an area of approximately 2,000 km2 in southern North Rhine-Westphalia and northern Rhineland Palatinate. The species could not be demonstrated further south when monitoring towards the northernmost previous collection sites in southern Germany. It therefore remains to be elucidated whether the species has entered western Germany from the south, from Belgium in the west where it has been demonstrated to occur locally since 2002, or through a new introduction.

Conclusions

Aedes j. japonicus is obviously much more widely distributed in Germany than previously thought. It appears to be well adapted, to have a strong expansion tendency and to replace indigenous mosquito species. Thus, a further spread is anticipated and elimination seems hardly possible anymore. The vector potency of the species should be reason enough to thoroughly monitor its future development in Germany.

Keywords:
Aedes japonicus japonicus; Cemeteries; Distribution focus; Spread; Western Germany