Background: After World War II in Hokkaido, northern island of Japan, at least seven cases of falciparum malaria were reported by 1951. A survey conducted at that time was unsuccessful in implicating any mosquito species as the possible vector. Although active anopheline mosquito surveillance continued until the middle of the 1980s, there is very limited information on their current status and distribution in Japan. Therefore, this study is an update on the current status and distribution of anopheline mosquitoes in Hokkaido based on a 15-year entomological surveillance between 2001 and 2015.
Methods: A survey of mosquitoes was conducted at 22 sites in Hokkaido, Japan, from 2001 to 2015. Adult mosquitoes were collected from cowsheds, lakesides, shrubs, and habitats ranging from open grassland to coniferous forest using a CDC miniature light trap enhanced with dry ice, aspirators, and sweeping nets. Larvae were collected from lakes, ponds, swamps, stagnant and flowing rivers, and paddy fields. All specimens were morphologically identified and subjected to PCR-based sequence analysis of the ITS2 region of rDNA. Phylogenetic trees were reconstructed using the neighbor-joining method.
Results: A total of 46 anopheline specimens were used for the phylogenetic analysis. During the survey, a new member of the Anopheles hyrcanus group, An. belenrae Rueda (2005), was discovered in eastern Hokkaido in 2004. A nopheles belenrae has since then been consistently found and confirmed to inhabit only this area of Japan. Four members of the An. h yrcanus group, A n . belenrae , A n . engarensis , A n . lesteri , and An. sineroides , have been found in Hokkaido. The results also suggest that An. sinensis , formerly a dominant species throughout Japan, has become a rarely found species, at least currently in Hokkaido.
Conclusion: The updated distribution of anopheline mosquitoes in Hokkaido, Japan, showed considerable differences from that observed in previous surveys conducted from 1969 to 1984. In particular, areas where An. sinensis was previously distributed may have been greatly reduced in Hokkaido. The phylogenetic analysis revealed a novel An. hyrcanus group member identified as An. belenrae , described in South Korea in 2005. It is interesting that An. belenrae was confirmed to inhabit only eastern Hokkaido, Japan.