Asian tiger mosquito may spread tropical diseases in UK
A mosquito which transmits tropical diseases is increasing in numbers in Europe and could soon invade the UK, experts are warning.
The Asian tiger mosquito, otherwise known as Aedes albopictus, carries illnesses such as dengue fever and chikungunya fever.
It is thought climate change is encouraging the mosquito to migrate north into European countries as winter weather becomes milder.
Experts predict that between the years 2030 and 2050 parts of southern England will have become a “hotspot” for the potentially deadly insect.
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A team of researchers from the University of Liverpool in the UK have spent time trying to predict how the distribution of Asian tiger mosquitoes will evolve as climate change takes place.
“Mosquito climate suitability has significantly increased over the southern UK, northern France, the Benelux, parts of Germany, Italy, Sicily and the Balkan countries,” they wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
“Effort should be made to conduct surveys for A. albopictus in countries that are described as high risk for its future establishment, and we also highly encourage a wide surveillance for this invasive species at the European level.
“These include Cyprus, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Macedonia, Portugal, Turkey, the Benelux, Germany and the UK.
“There is a potential risk of future establishment in coastal harbour areas for most of these countries.”
Asian tiger mosquitoes have gradually entered European countries from south-east Asia – where they originate from – via the shipment of goods such as tyres and bamboo plants.
They have already been responsible for a number of outbreaks of both dengue and chikungunya fever across Europe.
Aedes albopictus thrives in warm, wet conditions and during UK winters could survive in greenhouses, opting for water butts and vases during the summer months.
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