Neiker conducts a study to assess the potential risk posed by mosquito-borne diseases in the Basque Country's three main cities
The Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, Neiker, is conducting a study in the Basque Country's three main cities to assess the potential risk posed by mosquito-borne diseases. The initiative is being carried out under Action C.3.1: Mainstreaming climate change into health policies in the LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050 project.
On this occasion, the Neiker Animal Health department studies diversity and the abundance of haematophagous arthropods in green areas of Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastian and Vitoria-Gasteiz.
“Studies like these are necessary to understand the composition and abundance of the haematophagous arthropods in our area, their preferred habitats and food, with a view to evaluating the potential risk of disease transmission”, explains Neiker.
Methodology and objective
Suitable areas were selected for placing traps between May and October in collaboration with technical staff from the three city councils.
The main objectives are to:
- Establish which arthropod vectors are present in the most densely populated regions of the Basque Country.
- Define risky areas and draw up maps of their potential whereabouts.
- Identify factors that encourage the emergence of those vectors.
The data gathered between 2019 and 2021 show that there are almost 20 native species of mosquito and two invasive species, namely Aedes japonicus and Ae. albopictus. The study also revealed that Culex pipiens s.l. and Culiseta longiareolata are the most common species in green urban areas, “although average captures were low when compared with the populations existing in other areas in the east and south of the peninsula”, says the report.
Sources at Neiker add that “given that climate change is a fact, as shown by the recent heatwaves we are experiencing, we must be alert to changes that may occur in the years to come”.
Regarding the species that eat the mosquitoes, preliminary studies show that the most common species (Cx. pipiens s.l.) is mainly consumed by urban birds