Mosquito's in the UK
Should warning bells be ringing now ?
You may think that you have to go on a foreign holiday or visit a foreign country to experience the joys of mosquitoes, but you don't they are being found in increasing numbers in the UK, although so far few are harmful to you health, but that may be about to change.
Initially the major risk is not the malaria carrying variety, Anopheles mosquitoes are the only known carriers of malaria, but from another type known as the Asian Tiger mosquito or it's scientific name 'Aedes albopictus' spotted by its white and black striped pattern which has been found recently in Belgium. While the species does not carry malaria, it does transmit West Nile virus, Yellow fever and Dengue. They lay their drought resistant eggs in transportable materials, like used tyres, so there is a possibility that they can be transported to a country where they are not normally found. Some studies suggest that they could survive the UK winter, however, so far this species has not been found in the UK.
Mosquitoes in many parts of the world are becoming immune to insecticides to control them and a recent study in Senegal, between 2007 and 2010, showed that within this short time, resistance to popular types of pesticides used on bed nets, rose from 8% to 48%.
With the practice of re-flooding wetlands and increasing habitat that is ideal for water birds, but also for mosquitoes, added to the reduced ability to control them, we have the situation developing that presents a major risk.
Based on a survey of UK local authorities, reports of mosquito bites over the last 10 years are 2.5 times greater than in the 10 years up to 1996, and this year NHS Direct statistics show 9,061 calls in England complaining of bites and stings between May and mid August 2011, which is up nearly 15% from last summer. However not all bite complaints are due to mosquitoes some can be caused by bed bugs, Scottish midges and fleas.
While it's very difficult to track mosquito numbers and seasonal variations on weather may result in sudden increases or decreases, perhaps with other factors, like increasing habitat for them and decreasing resistance to insecticides, this is something that with hindsight should have rang warning bells.
Female Mosquito Joaquim Alves Gaspar