Detection of Usutu, Sindbis, and Batai Viruses in Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) Collected in Germany, 2011–2016
Due to the emergence of non-endemic mosquito vectors and the recent outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, mosquito-borne pathogens are considered an increasing risk to public and animal health in Europe. To obtain a status quo regarding mosquito-borne viruses and their vectors in Germany, 97,648 mosquitoes collected from 2011 to 2016 throughout the country were screened for arboviruses. Mosquitoes were identified to species, pooled in groups of up to 50 individuals according to sampling location and date, and screened with different PCR assays for Flavi-, Alpha- and Orthobunyavirus RNA. Two pools tested positive for Usutu virus-RNA, two for Sindbis virus-RNA, and 24 for Batai virus-RNA. The pools consisted of Culex pipiens s.l., Culex modestus, Culex torrentium, Culiseta sp., Aedes vexans, Anopheles daciae, and Anopheles messeae mosquitoes and could be assigned to nine different collection sites, with seven of them located in northeastern Germany. Phylogenetic analyses of the viral RNA sequences showed relationships with strains of the viruses previously demonstrated in Germany. These findings confirm continuing mosquito-borne zoonotic arbovirus circulation even though only a rather small percentage of the screened samples tested positive. With respect to sampling sites and periods, virus circulation seems to be particularly intense in floodplains and after flooding events when mosquitoes develop in excessive numbers and where they have numerous avian hosts available to feed on.