West Nile virus in mosquitoes in Greece
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Epidemics of West Nile virus (WNV) occurred for two consecutive years in Greece (in 2010 and 2011). A total of 16,116 adult Culex pipiens mosquitoes collected in two peripheries, Central Macedonia and Thessaly, were tested for WNV infection. WNV lineage 2 was detected in 6/296 mosquito pools, three in each year. The H249P substitution in the NS3 protein, previously associated with increased pathogenicity and thermotolerance, was detected in all six WNV-positive mosquito pools. When 21 individual C. pipiens mosquitoes were tested for the locus CQ11 to distinguish between the two C. pipiens forms, pipiens and molestus, 71.4 % were identified as pipiens, 4.7 % as molestus, and 19 % as hybrid pipiens/molestus, giving the first evidence that both C. pipiens biotypes are present in Greece, with a significant proportion being hybrids. The exact role of the C. pipiens forms and hybrids in the WNV epidemiology, in combination or not with the H249P substitution in the virus genome, remains to be elucidated.
The study was financially supported by the Development Agency of Thessaloniki S.A. and the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We thank Anna-Bella Failloux in Pasteur Institute, Paris, for helpful discussions on the molecular identification of the C. pipiens biotypes.
Conflict of interest
There is no conflict of interest.
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