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Asian mosquitoes are spreading more and more
Mosquitoes can transmit a wide range of infectious diseases, with the different types of mosquitos passing on very different pathogens. With the invasion of new mosquito species such as the Asian tiger mosquito or the Japanese bush mosquito, the risk of new infectious diseases increases. A current study from Austria shows how the Asian mosquito species are increasingly spreading in Tyrol. Previous studies have already shown a similar development for Germany.
So far around 50 mosquito species are known in Austria - and new potentially invasive species are emerging, the researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) report on their study results. Several mosquito species originally from Asia are spreading in Tyrol. This also increases the risk of transmitting dangerous viruses such as dengue, chikungunya and zika. Monitoring the mosquito fauna is therefore imperative.
Spread of new mosquito species
Overall, the central results of the study are not very pleasant, reports the research team. There are first signs that the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) has already established itself in Tyrol, i.e. hibernates there and is not introduced every year, and the Japanese bush mosquito (Aedes japonicus) is now native to Tyrol. It can also be found in all other federal states in Austria.
Korean bush mosquito first detected in Austria
For the first time, the researchers were also able to detect the Korean bush mosquito (Aedes koreicus) in Austria. In Germany, scientists from the Senckenberg Research Institute had already verified this in Hesse in 2019 and explicitly warned of the risks of the mosquito invasion. Aedes koreicus is considered a potential vector for the Japanese encephalitis virus, the Chikungunya virus and a vector for nematodes (dirofilaria). The German research team published the results in the specialist magazine "Parasitology Research".
Mosquito occurrence examined at 67 locations
The Austrian researchers led by student author Hans-Peter Führer from the Institute for Parasitology at Vetmeduni Vienna have now used ovitraps (devices on which mosquitoes lay their eggs) to investigate the spread of mosquitoes in Tyrol. "As part of the scientific mosquito monitoring program, ovitraps were set up weekly at 67 locations from May to October 2018 - 17 in East Tyrol and 50 in North Tyrol," according to the Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine.
Sampling was carried out on motorways and in urban and rural areas. The research team reported that the number of stinging new arrivals was quite high. Eggs from non-native mosquitoes were found at 18 of 67 locations (27%). The Asian tiger mosquito and the Japanese bush mosquito have been documented both on motorways and in urban areas in East and North Tyrol, and the Korean bush mosquito has been detected for the first time in East Tyrol.
High importance for public health
"The detection of the Asian tiger mosquito, the Japanese bush mosquito and the Korean bush mosquito is of great importance for the population, for public health and for the relevant decision-makers", emphasizes study author Hans-Peter Führer. In particular, the Asian tiger mosquito can transmit dangerous pathogens such as dengue, chikungunya and zika, while native mosquitoes are unable to do so. "In addition, the new mosquito species have some other unpleasant side effects because they are very annoying, can occur in large quantities and also bite during the day," reports the expert.
Tiger mosquitoes particularly problematic
According to the author of the study, there are around 3,500 mosquito species worldwide, many of which are potential disease carriers and the spread of which can have a significant impact on human and animal health. In Europe, new diseases are threatened primarily by the increased establishment of alien mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. The tiger mosquito repeatedly leads to local transmissions of the potentially life-threatening viral diseases dengue and chikungunya, for example in France and Italy, reports Führer.
Mosquito invasion on the highways
In view of the current findings "continuous monitoring of the new mosquito species is urgently required," emphasizes the expert. And he also explains why the highways are veritable hotspots of the mosquito invasion. “Alien species of mosquitoes are mainly brought in by goods transfer, but they can also simply travel by car. Motorways are therefore the most important entry point for invasive mosquito species, ”said the author of the study. (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters
- University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna: Dangerous new mosquitoes are at home in Tyrol (published June 29, 2020), vetmeduni.ac.at
- Antje Steinbrink, Sina Zotzmann, Sarah Cunze, Sven Klimpel: Aedes koreicus — a new member of the genus Aedes establishing in Germany ?; in: Parasitology Research (published February 8th, 2019), link.springer.com