Investigating mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) diversity from foreign deployment sites of the Belgian armed forces

Policy Concern Category: Public Health

Since mosquitoes are known vectors of pathogens of significant public health concern, the Medical Component of the Belgian Armed Forces is investigating the Culicidae biodiversity at foreign sites where the Belgian Army is deployed. BopCo takes part in this project by providing DNA-based identification support to the Laboratory for Vector-Borne Diseases of the Queen Astrid Military Hospital. After a preliminary thorough exploration of the available DNA reference databases, considering the region of deployment, adult mosquito specimens are identified to the lowest possible level using the DNA-barcoding technology. Important disease vectors have already been identified, including Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus, Culex quinquefasciatus, Culex pipiens, Culex perexiguus, and Anopheles coluzzii, in different regions where the soldiers were deployed. Some of these species are known to transmit the West Nile and/or the Rift Valley fever viruses, while others are important vectors for Wuchereria bancrofti (causing lymphatic filariasis) as well as for the yellow and dengue fever viruses. Besides providing essential information to set up mosquito preventive/control measures to pro-actively protect the soldiers, this biodiversity study also highlights the importance of treating army equipment appropriately when returning to Belgium in order to avoid unintentional introductions of exotic mosquito disease vectors onto the Belgian territory. 

BopCo Coordinator: Nathalie Smitz

Publications & Presentations:

  • Smitz, N., Cochez, C., Wilmaerts, L., Gombeer, S., Meganck, K., Van Bourgonie,YR., Backeljau, T. & De Meyer, M. 'Identification of disease vectors from foreign deployment sites of the Belgian armed forces using DNA-based technologies'. 8th International Barcode of Life Conference, 17–20 June 2019. Trondheim, Norway. PDF
  • Smitz, N.,  Cochez, C.,  Wilmaerts, L.,  Gombeer, S.,  Backeljau, T. & De Meyer, M. ‘Identifying mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) from foreign deployment sites of the Belgian armed forces'. 25th Congress of Zoology, 14-15 December 2018, Antwerp, Belgium. PDF

Partners & Collaborators: Laboratory for Vector-Borne Diseases of the Queen Astrid Military Hospital (Belgium)




Database: not yet published

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith