Deadly Mosquitoes in Britain

Sept. 19, 2014, 8:30 a.m.

Public health officials are monitoring Britain’s southern borders amid concerns deadly mosquitoes are heading our way.

Experts fear that the disease-carrying mosquitoes which were already spotted around Europe are crossing the Channel.

One invasive mosquito already seen in Kent is Culex modestus, which spreads the infectious West Nile virus.

The disease causes serious flu-like symptoms and leads to swelling of the brain and spinal cord in the most serious cases.

And with the continuing mild weather and global warming they could thrive across Southern England.

Species such as the Asian tiger mosquito act as carriers for diseases such as potentially fatal dengue fever, which can also cause shock, bleeding and organ damage.

Dr Jolyon Medlock, programme leader with Public Health England’s medical entomology team, said authorities are monitoring the situation closely.

He said: ‘One of the things we are looking at is the incursion of invasive mosquitoes which act as vectors for diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya.

The number of cases is fairly low in Europe at the moment but with climate change and increased globalisation there is the potential for that to change.

‘Given the continued spread of invasive mosquitoes in continental Europe, PHE continue to conduct surveillance at ports of entry and some motorway service stations.

‘We are also providing an identification service for nuisance mosquitoes.’

Dr Medlock said it was difficult to detect exactly how invasive species make it to Britain but said there was a number of potential entry routes.

He said Asian tiger mosquitoes – a large and aggressive variety – breed in tyres, laying eggs which can survive dormant for up to 18 months. When the tyres are exported to Europe the eggs travel with them and hatch when conditions are right.

Mosquitoes, the world's deadliest animals
A three-dimensional image of the West Nile Virus. The disease causes serious flu-like symptoms and leads to swelling of the brain and spinal cord in the most serious cases

A three-dimensional image of the West Nile Virus. The disease causes serious flu-like symptoms and leads to swelling of the brain and spinal cord in the most serious cases

It is believed the insects also end up arriving on aeroplanes and lorries stopping on the continent enroute to Britain.

The Asian tiger mosquito bites during the day and is already a major problem in Italy and parts of southern Europe.

It is also identified as a carrier of chikungunya, which like dengue fever can cause severe fevers of up to 40 degrees followed by joint pain that can last for years.

Mosquitoes need water to reproduce and Dr Medlock said covering water sources would help minimise potential breeding sites.

He said: ‘We encourage good “garden husbandry” in the summer months, by reducing the number of container habitats around the garden. This includes turning upside down buckets, emptying paddling pools that aren’t being used, unblocking drains and putting lids on water butts.’



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