Scientists Warn of Tiger Mosquito Threat
A combination of warmer weather and imported used tyres has led scientists to issue a warning about a possible threat from the Asian Tiger mosquito.
The mosquito, which as its name suggests is native to Asia, usually lays its eggs in small pools of water, such as banana leaves or coconut shells. However, any small pool will do and eggs have been found in the water in tyres being imported into France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In fact, in France, all imported tyres are sprayed with insecticide as a matter of course. As little as a quarter of an inch of water is sufficient for the Tiger to lay its eggs.
The Asian Tiger – named because of its stripes – is around one centimetre long and can transmit some 23 infections, including dengue fever, West Nile virus (both of which can be fatal) and a parasitic worm that finds its way into the lungs’ arteries.
Although there have been no cases of these diseases in the UK, scientists believe that the climate in the south is sufficiently warm to enable the Asian Tiger eggs to survive for months, or even over-winter.
According to the Daily Mail, the Health Protection Agency and Chartered Institute for Environmental Health wants to conduct a ‘mosquito watch’, whereby members of the public who are bitten by a mosquito – and there are 33 different species recorded in Britain – are asked to report the attack to environmental health officials and to keep any insects they kill so that these can be studied. Those who think they have been bitten by an Asian Tiger should contact their GP.
The report also says that checks will be carried out on known tyre dumps as an attempt is made to draw up “a mosquito map” of the UK.
West Nile virus is responsible for hundreds of deaths in the USA and mainland Europe and the Daily Mail graphically reminds its readers how quickly the disease can spread – in 1985, says the paper, one Asian Tiger mosquito was found in used tyres in Texas. Two years later, it had spread to no fewer than 17 states.