Medical and Veterinary Entomology (2006) 20, 335-344

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B.V. Purse, N. Nedelchev, G. Georgiev, E. Veleva, J. Boorman, E. Denison, E. Veronesi, S. Carpenter, M. Baylis and P.S. Mellor (2006)
Spatial and temporal distribution of bluetongue and its Culicoides vectors in Bulgaria
Medical and Veterinary Entomology 20 (3), 335-344
Abstract: Surveillance of Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) biting midges was carried out between 2001 and 2003, at 119 sites within a 50 × 50-km grid distributed across Bulgaria, using light trap collections around the time of peak adult midge abundance. Sentinel and ad hoc serum surveillance of hosts susceptible to bluetongue infection was carried out at around 300 sites between 1999 and 2003. Following the initial incursion of bluetongue virus 9 (BTV-9) into Bourgas province in 1999, affecting 85 villages along the southern border, a further 76 villages were affected along the western border in 2001, with outbreaks extending as far north as 43.6°N. The BTV-9 strain in circulation was found to have a low pathogenicity for Bulgarian sheep populations, with less than 2% of susceptible individuals becoming sick and seroconversions detected up to 30 km from recorded outbreaks in the south. The major Old World vector Culicoides imicola Kieffer was not detected among over 70 000 Culicoides identified in summer collections, suggesting that BTV-9 transmission in Bulgaria was primarily carried out by indigenous European vectors. The most likely candidates, the Palaearctic species complexes - the Culicoides obsoletus Meigen and C. pulicaris L. complexes - were widespread and abundant across the whole country. The C. obsoletus complex represented 75% of all individuals trapped in summer and occurred in high catch sizes (up to 15 000 individuals per night) but was not found across all outbreak sites, indicating that both Palearctic complexes probably played a role in transmission. Within the C. pulicaris complex, only C. pulicaris s.s., C. punctatus Meigen and C. newsteadi Austen were sufficiently abundant and prevalent to have been widely involved in transmission, whilst within the C. obsoletus complex most trapped males were C. obsoletus s.s. Adult vectors were found to be largely absent from sites in west Bulgaria for a period of at least 3 months over winter, which, taken along with the spatiotemporal pattern of outbreaks in the region between years, indicates the virus may be overwintering here by an alternative mechanism - either by covert persistence in the vertebrate host or possibly by persistence in larval stages of the vector.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Bethan Purse, Eva Veronesi, Matthew Baylis

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Culicoides imicola
Culicoides obsoletus Bulgaria
Culicoides pulicaris Bulgaria
Culicoides newsteadi Bulgaria
Culicoides punctatus Bulgaria