The Spread of the Aedes Albopictus Infestation

The species of mosquito known as Aedes Albopictus originates from the continent of Asia. It is commonly referred to as the Asian tiger mosquito or the forest day mosquito. It was unknown in the United States until its 1985 discovery in Texas. However, it is thought that the Aedes Albopictus first infiltrated the United States through Hawaii late last century. The Aedes Albopictus can now be found in about 900 counties in nearly 30 states across America.

In the northern part of the United States, there are infestation of the Aedes Albopictus in Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio. To the northeast, Aedes Albopictus infestations can be found in counties of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The infestation of Aedes Albopictus spreads to the south as far as Florida and Texas, including the states Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The latter three states, along with Florida, have documented that the Aedes Albopictus has infested all counties across their states. Established infestations can be found in Western parts of Texas and reaches out west to Nebraska. Some northern states have reported successful elimination of local infestations in targeted areas, but the states themselves remain infested overall.

Scientific studies have proven the Aedes Albopictus to be extremely competent vectors of several viruses including the dengue virus. Rarely considered an epidemic vector, the species is well known to be an ideal maintenance vector of dengue throughout the Asian continent. The arboviruses keystone, eastern equine encephalomyelitis, Tensaw, Potosi, and Cache Valley have been isolated from the Aedes Albopictus since its discovery in America. Two of these arboviruses, the Cache Valley virus and eastern equine encephalomyelitis are harmful to human beings.

The Aedes Albopictus has been in Europe since 1979, possibly earlier. Established infestations were confirmed in Italy in 1991, the Italian government suggesting that infestation occurred through shipments from America. The Italian reports found that nearly 90% of the suspected shipment came from the same source in Atlanta, Georgia, which as mentioned suffers from a statewide infestation. The species spread in the Pacific with Palau reporting infestation in 1988, Fiji reporting in the same year, followed by Yap in the year 1995. The species is also known to inhabit New Zealand and Australia, though without confirmed establishment of infestation.

In 1986, the Aedes Albopictus was introduced to Brazil and has since spread to seven of its states. Nigeria reported infestation in 1991. The species’ first established infestation of a Carribean Island occurred when it was discovered in the Dominican Republic in 1993. Later in the same year, the species was discovered in Mexico. In 1995, reports of infestation occurred in Guatemala, Cuba, and Bolivia. Guatemala’s infestation has been confirmed by the nation’s Ministry of Health as well as a contingent of Japanese entomologists studying sites on the Atlantic seacoast. Colombia and El Salvador reported infestations in 1996. The following year, the Cayman Islands were infested.

The Aedes Albopictus poses the threat of potentially being an epidemic vector of the dengue virus. It will take considerable time to understand the impact of the Aedes Albopictus in its relatively new habitats. It is hypothesized that in Brazil, the species will increase the potential threat of yellow fever, serving as a bridge vector between the jungle environment and the urban environment.

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