Mosquito surveys and West Nile virus screening in two different areas of southern Portugal, 2004-2007.
Longitudinal mosquito surveys were carried out in southern Portugal from 2004 to 2007, in a wetland area (Comporta, District of Setúbal) and around the perimeter of a dam irrigation plant that created the largest artificial lake in Europe, 250 km(2) (Alqueva, Districts of Evora and Beja). Our aim was to study the diversity, abundance, and seasonal dynamics of mosquitoes, comparing these two different areas, to screen mosquitoes for West Nile Virus (WNV), an arboviral agent already detected in Portugal, because these areas are populated with abundant avian fauna. Monthly collections of adult mosquitoes were carried out by Centers for Disease Control light-traps with CO(2) and by indoor resting collections. Mosquitoes were identified and screened for arboviruses by reverse transcriptase (RT)-polymerase chain reaction directed toward amplification of a 217-bp fragment of the NS5 gene. Mosquito peak densities were observed in July-August in Comporta and May-June, with a plateau in July-October, in Alqueva. However, densities were far higher in Comporta area (220,821 specimens) than in Alqueva area (9442 specimens), with a clear difference in species distribution, as in Comporta the predominant species was Culex theileri (85%), followed by Aedes caspius (6%), Anopheles atroparvus (4%), and Culex pipiens sensu latu (s.l.) (3%), whereas in Alqueva the predominant species was Cx. pipiens s.l. (56%), followed by An. atroparvus (18%), Cx. theileri (14%), and Culiseta longiareolata (9%). Female mosquitoes (8842 in 175 pools) of the species Ae. caspius, An. atroparvus, Culex mimeticus, Cx. pipiens Sensu latu (s.l.), Cx. theileri, and Culex univittatus were screened and found to be negative for WNV genomic RNA. Although there was no detection of WNV sequences in mosquitoes, vigilance should continue as the circulation of virus has been previously detected more than once in Portugal, in humans, animals, and mosquitoes, and in other surrounding Mediterranean countries.