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.
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
Chikungunya (in the language of Tanzania and Mozambique, it
means “that which bends up”) is an insectborne virus transmitted to humans by
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.
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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.
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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