‘Aggressive’ mosquito species has invaded Sweden, researchers say

'Aggressive' mosquito species has invaded Sweden, researchers say
Anopheles algeriensis, a mosquito capable of transmitting the West Nile virus, is new to Sweden. Photo: Anders Lindström/SVA
It is feared that an aggressive species of mosquito has established itself in Sweden, after researchers captured and examined a number of insects in the south of the country capable of carrying the West Nile virus.

Mosquito researcher Anders Lindström has managed to capture 50 of the anopheles algeriensis mosquitoes in Falsterbo, south of Malmö. The particular species is most associated with its ability to spread the virus that causes West Nile fever, a disease that in some cases can lead to brain inflammation, meningitis or heart muscle inflammation.

As long as the virus is not found in Sweden however the mosquito is not dangerous – just particularly aggressive.

“It can bite people in the middle of the day, even when it's clear and sunny, so the risk of being bitten is greater,” Lindström, who works at Sweden’s National Veterinary Institute (SVA) told news agency TT.

“(The spread of the insect) shows how fast this kind of thing can go. When climate change opens up opportunities there are organisms that will take them. It’s highly possible that we will see more mosquitoes.”

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The mosquito, which is already found in Central Europe, has become common in the United Kingdom in recent years and since moved to Denmark.

The first example in Sweden was found last year by Lindström in Simrishamn. So far this summer he has studied the area around Falsterbo, and will now return to Simrishamn to see how the species may have developed there.

The West Nile virus is not present in Sweden, but in nearby Poland, antibodies to the virus have been found in young storks which have not been outside the country.

“So they have, in some way, been exposed to the virus in Poland. That's the northernmost example we know. But there are no known instances of contraction there, among either animals or people,” Lindström concluded.