The number of West Nile virus (WNV)-infected mosquitoes aboard aircraft from the United States that arrive in the United Kingdom each summer was determined using a quantitative risk assessment. In the worst-case scenario, when WNV levels in mosquitoes are high (at epidemic levels) the probability of at least one WNV-infected mosquito being introduced into the United Kingdom was predicted to be 0.99. During these periods, a mean of 5.2 infected mosquitoes were estimated to be aboard flights from the United States to the United Kingdom during May to October, with 90% certainty that the exact value lies between one and ten mosquitoes. Heathrow airport was predicted to receive the majority of the infected mosquitoes (72.1%). Spatial analysis revealed the region surrounding Heathrow satisfies the criteria for potential WNV exposure as both WNV-competent mosquitoes and susceptible wild bird species are present. This region is, therefore, recommended for targeted, risk-based surveillance of WNV-infected mosquitoes in addition to an increased awareness of the risks to horses, birds and humans.
- Risk analysis
- West Nile virus