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Keywords:

  • Aedes caspius;
  • Aedes vexans;
  • Culex pipiens;
  • Culicidae;
  • bloodsucking insects;
  • HHV-8;
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma;
  • livestock;
  • malaria;
  • Po valley;
  • river;
  • Italy

Abstract The ‘promoter-arthropod’ hypothesis, which postulates that exposure to the bites of certain species of haematophagous arthropods is an environmental risk cofactor linked to human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8) and Kaposi’s sarcoma, was investigated in the Po River valley, northern Italy. The presence and density of adult female mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) was determined by CDC light trap catches in two adjacent districts, at variance with respect to Kaposi’s sarcoma incidence and HHV-8 seroprevalence. A total of 3910 specimens belonging to 11 species was collected in 34 rural sites (six municipalities) representative of the two districts. Five of these species are considered to be possible ‘promoters’ because of the irritation their bites cause humans: Aedes vexans (Meigen) and Ae. caspius (Pallas) (87% of sampled promoters), Culex modestus Ficalbi, Culiseta annulata (Schrank) and Coquillettidia richiardii (Ficalbi). Six are probable ‘non-promoters’: Cx. pipiens s.l., Cx. martinii Medschid, Anopheles claviger (Meigen), An. maculipennis s.l., An. plumbeus Stephens and Uranotaenia unguiculata Edwards. The density of promoters by site was correlated with the incidence rates of Kaposi’s sarcoma at the district level (Pearson’s r= 0.33, P= 0.06) and at the municipal level (r= 0.50, P < 0.01). Similar correlations emerged for non-promoters (r= 0.48, P < 0.01 and r = 0.42, P= 0.01, respectively). The density of promoters was higher than that of non-promoters in sites with livestock (odds ratio, OR = 2.8, 95% CI 2.2–3.6) and in municipalities with Kaposi’s sarcoma cases (OR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.7–3.5). The study provides additional evidence of the association between the density of some mosquito species and Kaposi’s sarcoma.