Guidelines to stop Asian tiger mosquito infection

Health ministry issues advice to residents on how to avoid being bitten and getting infected and spreading disease among others.

August 17, 2012 03:52
2 minute read.
Medical researcher [illustrative photo]

RESEARCHER Hoang Anh Duc researches dengue fever in Hanoi. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Although Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger) mosquitoes have not yet caused any illness in Israel, the Health Ministry has issued advice and guidelines to residents on how to avoid being bitten and getting infected and spreading disease among others.

The mosquitoes, which were first reported in 2002 to be here, can cause dengue fever and Chikungunya.

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Ministry public health chief Prof. Itamar Grotto told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that this species of mosquito – which is notable for its black-and-white-striped legs and tiger-striped body – can be found in Israel. However, Israelis travel in many places, including the Far East, South America and Africa, where the Asian tiger is endemic, so they can be bitten there and then – if bitten in Israel – can infect the local Aedes albopictus species, which can then bite the local population and spread the diseases.

Grotto noted that this occurred when the Chikungunya virus was spread in Italy and dengue and in France and Croatia. There is no vaccination against them.

Initially, they may be mistaken for the flu.

Chikungunya (in the language of Tanzania and Mozambique, it means “that which bends up”) is an insectborne virus transmitted to humans by Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Infection causes an illness with symptoms similar to dengue fever, with high temperatures lasting a few days, followed by pain in the joints that can go on for weeks or months.

Symptoms for dengue include a flat, red rash over most of the body about two to five days days after the fever starts, followed by a second rash, which looks like the measles and appears later in the disease. Patients suffer tiredness, headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting and swollen lymph nodes, and convulsions and severe dehydration can result if not treated.

Grotto said that the best way to deal with the mosquitoes is prevention. Litter in roadside ditches makes an ideal breeding ground for the Asian tiger mosquito. So does any standing water, including in dishes under pots, jars for rooting plants and even in dishes of water for pets. The water in such vessels should be changed regularly to prevent mosquito larvae from growing nearby, he said.

The female lays her eggs near water; not directly into it as other mosquitoes do, but typically near a stagnant pool. However, any open container containing water will suffice for larvae development.

It can also breed in running water, so stagnant pools of water are not its only breeding sites.

Decorative ponds should be stocked with fish that eat mosquito eggs. All leaky pipes should be fixed and empty tires or plastic bags should be removed from the vicinity.

Mosquito repellent should be applied, and infant beds should be covered with nets in areas infested with mosquitos if there are no screens on the windows. Sleeping with fans on helps deter the bugs, as do light, long-sleeved and long-legged clothing, the ministry official said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, Aedes albopictus was probably introduced into Hawaii late in the last century. Until its discovery in Houston in August 1985, this species was unknown in the New World.

It is now found in 26 US states and in numerous countries throughout the world, from Brazil to New Zealand.

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