Infectious Diseases

Asian Tiger Mosquito Aedes Albopictus



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Aedis albopictus, better know as the Asian Tiger mosquito is the host of a myriad of diseases. The common name is comes from the tiger-like stripes across its body and legs. The Asian Tiger mosquito thrives in tropical areas, but due to international trade has spread to other regions of the world including the United States.

Females require blood from a host to spur development of eggs, while males feed off of plant juices. A host is found through random behavior until a suitable host is found, with a high level of carbon dioxide being an important factor. Humans, mammals, and birds are all subject to becoming the host for the Aedis albopictus.

The primary natural enemies of aedis albopictus are other mosquito larvae and a diverse amount of worms and parasites are enemies to the Asian Tiger mosquito. These include flatworms, paramecia, and sporozoans all of which attach to the larvae of the mosquito.

As disease-carrying pests, the Asian Tiger mosquitos are known to carry and transmit the West Nile Virus, Yellow fever virus,  dengue fever, and Chikungunya fever.

The Asian Tiger mosquito was blamed for the estimated 266,000 infections and 248 deaths of people on the French during the Chikungunya epidemic in 2005-2006. Tiger mosquitos also transmit heartworms into household pets as well.

The West Nile Virus is part of the Japanese encephalitis virus complex. Their main route is through the mosquitos, particularly the Asian Tiger. About 90% of those infected with the West Nile virus show no symptoms. West Nile Virus works affects human beings in three separate ways. First, the asymptomatic infection occurs, which is the initial stage that carries no noticeable symptoms. The second is a febrile syndrome, which is a noticeable fever and termed West Nile Fever. The third and worst infection is West Nile meningitis or encephalitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, which can lead to death.

Yellow fever, carried by the Asian Tiger mosquito is transmitted by females only causing 200,000 infections and over 30,000 deaths a year. Disease from the mosquito usually occurs in tropical areas of South America and Africa. An infected human will get a fever, nausea, and pain, with liver damage occurring in the final stage with jaundice. Yellow fever has a safe and effective vaccine for travelers. There is no known therapy, so vaccinations are the only fighters of Yellow Fever.

The Asian Tiger also transmits what is known as dengue fever. Symptoms include headache, a skin rash, muscle and joint pains, and sometimes a hemorrhagic fever. Dengue fever is rarely fatal with a 1% mortality rate and treatment options are available, although there is no specific treatment that is recommended. The typical solution is re-hydration of the body, IV's with vitamins, and blood transfusions.

The final disease often associated with the Asian Tiger is Chikungunya fever. There is a 2 to 5 day period of incubation before symptoms occur.  The most common symptoms are very high fever, joint pains, arthritis, a rash, and sensitivity to light. Patients undergoing treatment for Chikungunya have reported arthritic pain that lasts up to 2 years. A vaccine is available with a 98% resistance rate.

The Asian Tiger mosquito is one of the most disease-ridden pests that exist in the insect kingdom. Control of the mosquito problem is difficult due to an amazing ability to adapt to new environments. There are currently no special methods to suppress the population of the Asian Tiger mosquito.

Sources:

http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/wnv_us_mosquito.html

http://www.eol.org/pages/764100

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/arbor/albopic_new.htm

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