Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The hardy Asian tiger mosquito, known for its vicious biting habits and preference for large cities, is back — and this time it’s carrying a fever-inducing virus. Amy Kraft of The New Scientist reports that the black-and-white striped pest carries chikungunya, a virus that causes joint pain as well as fever and rash, but is rarely life-threatening.
Typically, cold winters control the mosquito population. But unseasonably warm weather has brought the disease-carrying insects out in increasing numbers.
As these urban mosquitoes readily spread, entomologists fear that the virus could become endemic to New York within a few years:
[Cornell’s Laura Harrington] estimates there is one Asian tiger mosquito for every five New Yorkers. Once that ratio flips to five insects per person, her model suggests that someone arriving in New York carrying the virus would have a 38 per cent chance of passing it on to another person through mosquito bites. The disease could become entrenched in the city at that level of infection
The Asian tiger was introduced to the United States from Southeast Asia in 1985. It is believed to have arrived accidentally in tires imported from Japan, according to the centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
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