The tiger mosquito continues its rapid expansion in France, according to a new map showing the advance of disease-bearing insect by the website Vigilance Mosquitoes.
Fifty-one departments are now colonised, nine more than last year. A further 66 departments are at risk of soon being colonised.
The tiger mosquito has now established itself along the Atlantic coast to the Loire, the Rhone Valley to Burgundy, the Ile-de-France and Alsace.
Originating in Southeast Asia, the tiger mosquito can carry Chikungunya, dengue or Zika virus.
On the Côte d’Azur, several indigenous dengue cases have been reported since 2014.
New research presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in the Netherlands warned that diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, leishmaniasis, and tick-borne encephalitis will become more common in Europe in the next few decades if climate change remains unmitigated.
Even previously unaffected areas in higher latitudes and altitudes, including some parts of northern Europe, are at risk of outbreaks unless action is taken to improve surveillance and data sharing, the researchers said.
Previously dengue transmission was largely confined to tropical and subtropical regions because freezing temperatures kill the mosquito’s larvae and eggs, but longer hot seasons could enable the Asian tiger mosquito to survive and spread across much of Europe within decades, the researchers warned.
“The stark reality is that longer hot seasons will enlarge the seasonal window for the potential spread of vector-borne diseases and favour larger outbreaks,” stated Giovanni Rezza, the director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Instituto Superior di Sanitá.
“We must be prepared to deal with these tropical infections. Lessons from recent outbreaks of West Nile virus in North America and chikungunya in the Caribbean and Italy highlight the importance of assessing future vector-borne disease risks and preparing contingencies for future outbreaks.