West Nile Virus Lineage 2 Vector Competence of Indigenous Culex and Aedes Mosquitoes from Germany at Temperate Climate Conditions
West Nile virus (WNV) is a widespread zoonotic arbovirus and a threat to public health in Germany since its first emergence in 2018. It has become of particular relevance in Germany in 2019 due to its rapid geographical spread and the detection of the first human clinical cases. The susceptibility of indigenous Culex pipiens (biotypes pipiens and molestus) for a German WNV lineage 2 strain was experimentally compared to that of Serbian Cx. pipiens biotype molestus and invasive German Aedes albopictus. All tested populations proved to be competent laboratory vectors of WNV. Culex pipiens biotype pipiens displayed the highest transmission efficiencies (40.0%–52.9%) at 25 °C. This biotype was also able to transmit WNV at 18 °C (transmission efficiencies of 4.4%–8.3%), proving that temperate climates in Central and Northern Europe may support WNV circulation. Furthermore, due to their feeding behaviors, Cx. pipiens biotype molestus and Ae. albopictus can act as “bridge vectors”, leading to human WNV infections.