New research by the Cyprus Institute reveals that the tiger mosquito which is related to those transmitting Zika in Latin America is expected to spread further within Europe in the near future, the institute announced on Tuesday.
A new publication from the institute conducted said its researchers, in collaboration with British and German research institutions showed that the tiger mosquito, a possible carrier of Zika and other notorious viruses, could more easily spread over Europe than previously thought.
According to the institute, the researchers employed high-resolution atmospheric circulation models and mosquito population dynamics models to investigate the global suitability to the spreading and establishment of the tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.
The tiger mosquito is known to carry Dengue and Chikungunya viruses and is also suspected to be capable of carrying Zika. The research reveals that the present-day climate in Europe is suitable for tiger mosquito spreading as far north as Germany, Belgium, northern France, UK and Ireland. This mosquito has recently invaded Europe and is now common in south European countries during and around summer months.
“At present there is no evidence of indigenous Zika transmission in Europe, and the few reported cases are imported,” the institute said.
In Latin America, the virus is transmitted through bites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that is not present in mainland Europe. “However, it is strongly suspected that the tiger mosquito that is closely related to Aedes aegypti can also carry Zika, but this is not yet documented,” it added.
The symptoms of Zika are commonly mild and resolve within a few days. However, an association of microcephaly and underdevelopment of the brain in foetuses and newborn babies is strongly suspected. The disease has been also linked to damage of the nerves, known as Guillain–Barré syndrome.
To enable public access to the findings of this research, The Cyprus Institute has developed an online interactive risk-assessment tool for global monitoring of current and future risks of tiger mosquito. The tool is available at http://vbd.cyi.ac.cy and is updated regularly with improved predictions and global surveillance data.