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Culicoides spp. were monitored between April 2007 and May 2008 to identify the vectors of bluetongue disease virus (BTV) in Germany.
Materials & Methods: Biting midges were caught using blacklight traps, identified to species group and tested for BTV genome by RT-PCR.
Results: Culicoides spp. were detected over the entire monitoring period, although at low densities during winter months. High numbers (> 50,000) of biting midges were caught between May and November with a maximum in October 2007. In 585 (2.4%) out of 24,513 batches of biting midges BTV genome was detected. All BTV-positive pools of biting midges were shown to be infected with BTV serotype 8. Almost all batches with high BTV genome load (n=43) were classified as C. obsoletus group, indicating a prominent role for species of this group as vectors of BTV.
Conclusions: Molecular characterization of positive pools suggests C. obsoletus sensu stricto as a relevant vector for BTV-8 transmission in Germany.