Updated occurrence and bionomics of potential malaria vectors in Europe: a systematic review (2000–2021)

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Abstract

Despite the eradication of malaria across most European countries in the 1960s and 1970s, the anopheline vectors are still present. Most of the malaria cases that have been reported in Europe up to the present time have been infections acquired in endemic areas by travelers. However, the possibility of acquiring malaria by locally infected mosquitoes has been poorly investigated in Europe, despite autochthonous malaria cases having been occasionally reported in several European countries. Here we present an update on the occurrence of potential malaria vector species in Europe. Adopting a systematic review approach, we selected 288 papers published between 2000 and 2021 for inclusion in the review based on retrieval of accurate information on the following Anopheles species: An. atroparvus, An. hyrcanus sensu lato (s.l.), An. labranchiae, An. maculipennis sensu stricto (s.s.), An. messeae/daciae, An. sacharovi, An. superpictus and An. plumbeus. The distribution of these potential vector species across Europe is critically reviewed in relation to areas of major presence and principal bionomic features, including vector competence to Plasmodium. Additional information, such as geographical details, sampling approaches and species identification methods, are also reported. We compare the information on each species extracted from the most recent studies to comparable information reported from studies published in the early 2000s, with particular reference to the role of each species in malaria transmission before eradication. The picture that emerges from this review is that potential vector species are still widespread in Europe, with the largest diversity in the Mediterranean area, Italy in particular. Despite information on their vectorial capacity being fragmentary, the information retrieved suggests a re-definition of the relative importance of potential vector species, indicating An. hyrcanus s.l., An. labranchiae, An. plumbeus and An. sacharovi as potential vectors of higher importance, while An. messeae/daciae and An. maculipennis s.s. can be considered to be moderately important species. In contrast, An. atroparvus and An. superpictus should be considered as vectors of lower importance, particularly in relation to their low anthropophily. The presence of gaps in current knowledge of vectorial systems in Europe becomes evident in this review, not only in terms of vector competence but also in the definition of sampling approaches, highlighting the need for further research to adopt the appropriate surveillance system for each species. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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Bertola, M., Mazzucato, M., Pombi, M., & Montarsi, F. (2022, December 1). Updated occurrence and bionomics of potential malaria vectors in Europe: a systematic review (2000–2021). Parasites and Vectors. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-022-05204-y

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