Spread of Asian Mosquitoes Could Fuel Disease Outbreaks

The Asian tiger mosquito is moving north as climate changes...

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By Sherri Englund via the Atkinson Center Blog, 6/18/13

The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is one of a small army of invasive species assaulting North America. The black-and-white striped mosquitoes are already familiar pests in the southeastern United States, but now they are moving north into more temperate climates along the East Coast, where their eggs can survive even cold winters. A recent article in ScienceNews describes the public health worries that accompany the invasion:

"The Asian tiger turns out to be a competent vector for a raft of diseases, some lethal. It can carry dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya virus, West Nile fever, and two forms of encephalitis named for St. Louis, Missouri, and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Among these diseases, only yellow fever is preventable by vaccine. Ominously, dengue has already gotten a toehold in southern parts of the United States."

The article cites the research of ACSF Faculty Fellow Laura Harrington (ENT). Harrington and her team calculated the likelihood of a chikungunya outbreak if the virus were brought to the United States by a single traveler. Chikungunya is a tropical virus carried by mosquitoes, including the Asian tiger mosquito, with symptoms similar to dengue fever.

Read more about Laura Harrington’s research and the public health risks of Asian tiger mosquitoes.

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