West Nile mosquito found near Copenhagen

Warmer weather bringing them up further north

October 20th, 2014 10:12 am| by admin

The 'Culex modestus' mosquito, which can carry the dreaded West-Nile virus, has been found in Denmark for the first time.

The mosquito, which can transmit the Usutu Virus from birds to humans, was found in a waterhole near a residential neighbourhood in the southwestern Copenhagen suburb of Greve.

“The mosquito itself is harmless,” Rene Bødker, an epidemiologist from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), told DR Nyheder.

“It first becomes dangerous when birds migrating from the south arrive here carrying the virus. The mosquito doesn't distinguish whether it's biting birds or people and it bites during the day and night.”

READ MORE: Malaria's coming to Denmark

Warmer weather bringing it north
It is the first time that the West-Nile mosquito has been found so far north in Europe. There are no vaccines to protect humans from the Usutu virus or the West Nile virus, which killed some 50 people during an epidemic in Russia and Romania in the 1990s. It has killed some 1,500 people in the US since first being found there in 1999.

DTU, which has been monitoring mosquito populations nationwide in Denmark since 2011, only found the West-Nile mosquito in that one waterhole in Greve and blamed climate change for the mosquitoes being so far north. The mosquito has gone now as winter approaches, but another warm summer could bring it back.

“Our research showed that people at the beach in Greve were attacked by West-Nile mosquitoes more than once a minute in August,” Bødker said in a press release.

The species arrived to the south of London in 2010 and it now makes up 90 percent of all mosquitoes found in the sand dunes in Kent.