Projects carried out in the 2018

  • Dynamics and persistence of the spores of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis in the soil of the Thurauen nature reserve - Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) is a sporigenous bacterium used worldwide as a biological insecticide to fight mosquitoes. At the Thurauen nature reserve, the Bti was first used in 2013 to control Aedes vexans mosquitoes. The monitoring of biocidal microorganisms used for mosquito control is an important aspect for the assessment of their environmental impact, especially when used in nature reserves. The Office for Waste, Water, Energy and Air (AWEL), Biosafety Section, Canton of Zurich, has commissioned the Applied Microbiology Laboratory to analyse the dynamics and monitor the persistence of Bti spores before and after larvicide treatments for a period of 3 years.
  • Surveillance and control of the invasive mosquito Aedes albopictus (Tiger mosquito) in Switzerland - The project, which started in 2013 and is scheduled to end in 2019, is funded by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and is carried out in collaboration with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH, Basel) and Mabritec AG (Riehen). The aim of this project is to investigate whether Ae. albopictus is also being introduced north of the Alps. The mosquito eggs collected by means of egg traps along the main motorway axes, airports, ports and cargo stations were counted and analysed by means of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry at the LMA. Until 2012, surveillance and control of tiger mosquitoes were limited to the Canton of Ticino. Since this mosquito was also detected in neighbouring southern Germany and northern France, its potential introduction in the rest of Switzerland cannot be ruled out. The aim of this project is therefore to investigate whether Ae. albopictus is also being introduced north of the Alps. The operational monitoring and control of the tiger mosquito in Ticino and the support to other cantons (Grisons, Zurich, Glarus, Liechtenstein, Basel-Stadt) for the surveillance and control of invasive mosquitoes continued as planned in 2018.
  • Surveillance of mosquito-borne viruses in Canton Ticino - Evaluation of the public health risk for autochthonous transmissions and surveillance using sugar-baited nucleic acid preservation cards (2017-in progress). This project is managed by the Biosafety and Carriers sectors of the LMA and is partly financed by BAG and Canton Ticino. The main aim is to carry out a surveillance of possible viruses potentially transmitted by mosquitoes present in the territory of Ticino through the analysis of the RNA present in the saliva of mosquitoes. The method currently used for this purpose is based on the use of special FTA papers (able to preserve the RNA for up to a week) soaked in honey and placed in different traps. Mosquitoes are attracted by honey as a source of sugar and while they feed, they release the saliva and any viral RNA inside the FTA card. Molecular analyses carried out in the laboratory will be used to highlight the presence or absence of viral RNA in the samples collected during the season.
  • Project ALBIS - A new integrated system for risk-based surveillance of invasive mosquito Aedes albopictus in Switzerland - in collaboration with the Institute of Earth Sciences (DACD, SUPSI) and Dalle Molle Institute of Artificial Intelligence Studies (DTI, SUPSI). Internal financing SUPSI. - The expansion of the tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, combined with its ability to transmit arboviruses (e.g. dengue and chikungunya), is a major public concern in Switzerland. Ae. albopictus is already firmly established in the Canton of Ticino and is likely to colonise other urban areas north of the Alps in the coming years. A recent survey carried out by the LMA has shown the importance of considering the effects of urban heat islands and microclimate data when using models to predict the distribution of Ae. albopictus. This project integrates the microclimates into a species distribution model specifically developed to obtain more precise and realistic risk scenarios for the spread of Ae. albopictus in Switzerland.
  • National Reference Network for Invasive Mosquitoes - National Coordination Centre for the Surveillance and Control of Invasive Mosquitoes, 2017-2019, funded by BAFU.
  • Swiss guidelines for the surveillance and control of invasive mosquitoes, 2017-2018, on behalf of the BAFU.
  • Evaluation of the possibility of regular application of VectoMax G during the regular treatments against Aedes albopictus in Canton Ticino, 2017-2018, on behalf of the Department of Territory of the Canton of Ticino, under the supervision of BAFU and BAG.
  • Preparedness plan for surveillance and interventions on emerging vector-borne diseases in Switzerland, with special focus on the Aedes-borne diseases potentially transmitted by the mosquitoes of the species Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito). Strategy paper being prepared in collaboration with the Office of the Cantonal Doctor and Dr. Florence Fouque (Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, WHO World Health Organization). Plan presented and discussed with the actors of the various institutions at the Office of the Cantonal Doctor on 7 June 2018.