On four nights in June 2008, light traps were operated for Culicoides biting midges, the vector species for bluetongue virus (BTV), at five sites in Chester Zoo in north-west England. Over 35,000 Culicoides midges, of 25 species, were captured, including high densities inside animal enclosures. Over 94 per cent of all the Culicoides trapped were females of the Obsoletus group, which is implicated as the vector of BTV serotype 8 in northern Europe. The mean catch of this group per trap per night was over 1500, suggesting a potential risk of BTV transmission if the virus is introduced to Chester Zoo in the animals or midges in the summer.
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