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Hold that tiger.

Hold that tiger

One of the newest species inadvertently imported into the United States is the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. First spotted by Harris County, Tex., mosquito-control officers a year ago, it appeared to be initially confined to Houston. But in the Aug. 8 MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY WEEKLY REPORT, published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), individuals with 34 different entomology, mosquito-control and health departments report on a survey they conducted in July that identified infestations in seven southern U.S. states and in Brazil.

"This is a very aggressive mosquito -- a very aggressive biter," says CDC entomologist Chester G. Moore of Ft. Collins, Colo. Some mosquitoes subtly sneak a bite. A. albopictus, however, picks its target and blatantly dive-bombs for the blood, Moore says, explaining why he suspects more people will complain about this insect.

But CDC's main concern, he says, is the mosquito's potential for carrying viruses responsible for diseases including dengue, yellow fever, poly-arthritis and California-type encephalitis. "We have mosquitoes here that will also transmit those diseases," Moore says. However, most mosquitoes don't tend to be carriers for so many different diseases. Moreover, he notes, research now under way at CDC suggests A. albopictus may be a more efficient carrier of many of these viruses than some of the other mosquitoes. Because it has yet to pick up any of these viruses in the blood of its U.S. victims, the insect hasn't been associated with any U.S. outbreaks of disease.

This mosquito prefers to breed in confined spaces -- like holes in hardwood trees. In urban settings, however, it has shown a preference for rainwater that settles in stored tires. In fact, it is believed to have entered the United States in worn Asian tires being imported by tire retreaders.

Earlier this year, when it appeared the Asian tiger mosquito was still confined to the Houston area, CDC officials thought it might be possible to eradicate it. "It's still a possibility," Moore says, "though with each new report of its spread it seems somewhat less likely." To limit the mosquito's spread, CDC is recommending a halt in the interstate movement of tires.
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Title Annotation:Asian tiger mosquito
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 23, 1986
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