For the past few years, Fairfield County residents have had an unwanted guest, the Asian Tiger mosquito. Asian Tiger mosquitoes are the Ninja Warriors of the Mosquito Kingdom. Unlike other mosquito species, they aren’t active primarily at dawn and dusk. They bite at all hours of the day and are one of the most aggressive mosquito specie.
Jan Ellen Spiegel with the Connecticut Mirror recently discussed a worry Theodore Andreadis, Director of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station has about the Asian Tiger mosquito. In her story, Mr. Andreadis is quoted as saying, “…for the first time in the winter of 2012-2013, Asian Tiger mosquitoes over-wintered in Connecticut instead of just dying off and migrating back the following season. They were found holed up inside the walls of a small pile of used tires in a wooded area of Stratford.” “…If they survived this winter, then unfortunately they will have taken up permanent residence here,” said Andreadis, who expects to know in another couple of weeks.
Why is this troublesome to Fairfield County residents? The Asian Tiger mosquito is responsible for carrying a number of mosquito-borne viruses. West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever and most recently Chikungunya have all been associated with the expansion of the Asian Tiger mosquito’s territory.
In December 2013, fewer than 6 months ago, the Asian Tiger mosquito was identified as being responsible for the first cases of Chikungunya in the Western Hemisphere. The virus spread so quickly since that time that the virus is now in 17 Caribbean countries according to the CDC. There have been 3 reported cases so far this year in Florida by travelers who returned from the Caribbean. Scientists believe it is only a matter of time before it will be transmitted to other humans in the US by local Asian Tiger mosquitoes.
Prior to the outbreak in December 2013 on St. Martin’s Island, Chikungunya was transmitted by the mosquito specie responsible for yellow fever, Aedes aegypti. Once Chikungunya was found in Asian Tiger mosquitoes, scientists realized that this virus has an extraordinary ability to mutate. In a recent CNN article, As U.S. warms, dangerous mosquito thrives, Professor Durland Fish and two other Yale colleagues, reported on the recent explosion of Chikungunya across the Caribbean. In the article, they stated, “Although the outbreak is driven by the yellow fever mosquito, which thrives only in the tropics, recent mutations allow the Chikungunya virus to be carried 100 times more efficiently by the Asian tiger mosquito.” Two days after this story was first written, NBC News reported on June 5, 2014 that the number of cases in the Caribbean have doubled in only two weeks to more than 100,000 cases.
The Connecticut Mirror May 26, 2014 story described the final thoughts of Theodore Andreadis on the Asian Tiger mosquito’s future in Connecticut. ”If it survived this winter, then unfortunately it will have taken up permanent residence here.”
Residents of Fairfield County will indeed know more soon on whether the Asian Tiger mosquito is here to stay. Whether they remain a guest or resident, we hope you know enough after reading this story to understand the importance of avoiding the Asian Tiger mosquito, as well as all mosquitoes.