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Dengue and Yellow-Fever Mosquitoes: Range Moving North

Jul 07, 2015 01:20 PM EDT
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Mosquito Larva
The range of two types of disease-carrying mosquitoes has expanded widely, to include southern Europe and parts of the U.S.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Mosquitoes carrying dengue and chikungunya have traditionally lived in the warmest climates, but have rapidly expanded territory to parts of the U.S., southern Europe and China over the past 10-15 years. University of Oxford researchers recently published their findings, including open-source maps, in the journal eLife. These include information on growth and areas not yet populated that are suitable for tiger mosquito survival, such as parts of Europe.

"Given the lack of a vaccine or any antiviral treatment for either virus and the debilitating pain they both cause, knowing where the mosquitoes are spreading to and where they might turn up next is crucial for helping to protect communities," says first author Moritz Kraemer, in a release. This is especially true in Africa, where records are sparse.

The maps also include the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which also carries those viruses and is likely to spread easily in urban areas worldwide. Concentrations of tiger and yellow fever mosquitoes are high in Brazil, China, Taiwan, and parts of the U.S., said a release

Temperature is important to the survival of the mosquitoes, but the Aedes albopictus can survive in colder climates by remaining dormant all winter-thus extending the margins of its range, said a release.

The researchers created the maps from records that include collections of the insects from national entomological surveys. They published resources in many languages, said a release.

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