Disease Risk: The Tiger Mosquito Invades Britain

May 28, 2008 / 11 Comments

tiger mosquito Disease Risk: The Tiger Mosquito Invades Britain

The tiger mosquito, native from Asia, became a recent threat to European countries a few years ago when they discovered it already established itself in northern Italy where it has transmitted chikungunya fever to local population. The same mosquito is responsible for the dengue and yellow fever plus 20 other viral diseases. More than a dozen other countries including Germany and the Netherlands have detected the plague, too.

Because the UK climate during the summers is highly suitable for the tiger mosquito to breed, scientists at the Government’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) at Porton Down in Wiltshire are very concerned that England and the Wales may be the next areas to be invaded.

asian tiger mosquito Disease Risk: The Tiger Mosquito Invades Britain

“The mosquito has popped up across Europe and although we haven’t found it yet in the UK, we have identified the potential for it to come here,” a spokesman of the HPA’s Porton Down laboratories said. Though the Health Protection Agency said they have “no confirmed reports” in August 2007, the DailyMail reported on that an Asian mosquito was found in a suburban back garden in Gloucestershire.

Once settled in the country, it could cause a locally spread epidemic. “You do need several steps in the chain for it to become an issue, but it’s something we’ve been keeping an eye on. Most people think of malaria, but there are other things you can catch from mosquitoes,” the same spokesman said.

Over the last few years more and more British people returned from Asia with the chikungunya virus, from 6 in 2004 to more than 130 in 2006. The female mosquito seems to be the most dangerous because she feeds on human blood throughout the day, not just at night, is renowned for her quick and penetrating bite that could transmit diseases extremely fast.