There were a few eye-catching headlines in some media outlets today announcing a new arrival, or re-arrival, to British shores. Stories in the Mirror, the Mail, Planet Earth Online and Reuters followed the publication in the journal Parasites and Vector of a paper by scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Health Protection Agency giving details of the discovery of the mosquito, Culex modestus, in some areas of southern England.
It was a potentially difficult story to get across without being alarmist: Cx modestus is known to carry West Nile Virus in other parts of the world, although the paper, which is open access, and our accompanying press release all state clearly that the virus has not yet been found in the UK. It is important however to understand the current distribution of Cx modestus and what associated risks, however small, it may bring.
Map of Thames estuary showing satellite predictions of habitat suitable for Cx modestus. Red
dots are most similar and blue represents possible islands of habitat, darker blue being more suitable.