Emergence of sandflies (Phlebotominae) in Austria, a Central European country.
The possible existence of autochthonous sandfly populations in Central Europe north of the Alps has long been excluded. However, in the past years, sandflies have been documented in Germany, Belgium, and recently, also in Austria, close to the Slovenian border. Moreover, autochthonous human Leishmania and Phlebovirus infections have been reported in Central Europe, particularly in Germany. From 2010 to 2012, sandfly trapping (740 trap nights) was performed at 53 different capture sites in Austria using battery-operated CDC miniature light traps. Sites were chosen on the basis of their climate profile in the federal states Styria, Burgenland, and Lower Austria. Sandfly specimens found were transferred to 70% ethanol for conservation. Identification was based on morphological characters of the male genitalia and the female spermathecae, respectively. Altogether, 24 specimens, 22 females and 2 males, all identified as Phlebotomus (Transphlebotomus) mascittii Grassi, 1908, were found at six different sampling sites in all three federal states investigated. The highest number of catches was made on a farm in Lower Austria. Altogether, the period of sandfly activity in Austria was shown to be much longer than presumed, the earliest capture was made on July 3rd and the latest on August 28th. Sandflies have been autochthonous in Austria in small foci probably for long, but in the course of global warming, further spreading may be expected. Although P. mascittii is only an assumed vector of Leishmania spp.-data on its experimental transmission capacity are still lacking-the wide distribution of sandflies in Austria, a country thought to be free of sandflies, further supports a potential emergence of sandflies in Central Europe. This is of medical relevance, not only with respect to the transmission of Leishmania spp. for which a reservoir is given in dogs, but also with respect to the phleboviruses.