The public health importance of the Asian tiger mosquito

tiger_2_177Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is a mosquito of great medical importance, since it can transmit many human diseases, notably dengue fever, the most important human disease transmitted by arthropod vectors. This mosquito is a competent laboratory vector for at least 22 arboviruses as well as nematodes of the genus Dirofilaria. Among the invasive mosquito species (IMS) recorded in Europe, Ae. albopictus is probably the most serious threat to public health.

Regardless its ability to transmit pathogens, the public health importance of Ae. albopictus also involves the intense nuisance caused by its aggressive biting behavior. This nuisance usually results in skin reactions related to redness, itching or rashes. Sensitive people, such as young children, and especially those who are not used to its bites may experience severe symptoms that can even require medical care.

The most important pathogens, which have been proved to be transmitted by Ae. albopictus in nature, include Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus and nematodes of the genus Dirofilaria, which mainly cause dog and human infections, known as dirofilariasis.

Aedes albopictus seems not to be involved in the circulation of the West Nile fever in nature, whereas the main vectors for this arboviral disease include primarily ornithophilic mosquito species belonging to the genus Culex, such as the ornithophilic biotype pipiens of the House common mosquito Culex pipiens.

It is noteworthy that the Asian tiger mosquito does not transmit plasmodia responsible for malaria, since these parasites are only transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles.

Dr Athanassios Giatropoulos
Agronomist – Entomologist