Tiger mosquito: why is it us that it bites and not the animals?

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The tiger mosquito or Aedes albopictus has been in France since 2004. The bite of a tiger mosquito is generally benign, but this insect can be the carrier of diseases such as dengue, zika, chikungunya or yellow fever if it has already bitten a person infected. Unlike the so-called “common” mosquito, the tiger mosquito attacks at dawn or at dusk.

As soon as temperatures rise, tiger mosquitoes proliferate, especially in urban areas. In fact, these insects target humans rather than animals for food. In a new study, researchers have looked into the question to understand why these parasites mainly bite humans.

Tiger mosquito: a strong spread of vector-borne diseases in the next few years?

The work, carried out in 27 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, was published in the American scientific journal Cell. For the purposes of the study, the scientists set traps in large urbanized cities and other traps in wild areas where tiger mosquitoes are rarely encountered by humans.

During the study, scientists found that two environmental factors promote tiger mosquito bites on human skin: drought and population density. Females lay their eggs in areas where water is stagnant, such as artificial ponds or containers located outside. During periods of drought, they therefore find it easier to find water points in towns. As soon as the eggs hatch, the new adult females can go directly to sting humans for food.

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“The rapid urbanization of Africa could increase the risk of human bites by the tiger mosquito in many major cities by 2050” alerted the study authors. Diseases transmitted by tiger mosquitoes may therefore spread on a larger scale within a few years.

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