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In the Old World, some mosquitoes in the Culex pipiens complex are excellent enzootic vectors of West Nile virus, circulating the virus among birds, whereas others bite mainly humans and other mammals. Here we show that, in northern Europe, such forms differing in behavior and physiology have unique microsatellite fingerprints with no evidence of gene flow between them, as would be expected from distinct species. In the United States, however, hybrids between these forms are ubiquitous. Such hybrids between human-biters and bird-biters may be the bridge vectors contributing to the unprecedented severity and range of the West Nile virus epidemic in North America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1535-1538
Number of pages4
JournalScience (New York, N.Y.)
Issue number5663
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2004


  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Birds
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Culex
  • Europe
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Insect Bites and Stings
  • Insect Vectors
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • United States
  • West Nile Fever
  • West Nile virus


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