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Are We Losing the Battle Against Mosquitoes?

According to new research published a few days ago in the Lancet magazine, residents of Attica will have to get used to the presence of Asian tiger mosquitoes almost all year round, in addition to common mosquitoes.

The study reports that for the first time, adult Asian tiger mosquitoes were active during the winter season (December 2023 and January 2023) and were detected in relatively large numbers. In previous periods, the tiger mosquito was active in Attica from May to early December, with a peak during the summer months, and only a small number of adults were detected in December. However, last year, the entomological monitoring network detected 99 tiger mosquitoes in 55 traps during this period. The recording of these species in December 2022 was also very high, with 714 mosquitoes detected, compared to 150 in December 2021 and much fewer in previous years.

Dr. Antonios Michailakis, head of the Laboratory of Insects & Parasites at the Benaki Phytopathological Institute and member of the Board of Directors of the Greek National Public Health Organisation (EODY) and consortium member of the Horizon EU project IDAlert, notes in an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini that these facts prove the extension of the Asian tiger mosquitoes’ activity period, suggesting that the concept of winter for them might no longer apply due to climate change. “All these years we knew that the Asian tiger mosquito disappears in December. However, climate change has made our winters warmer, meaning that the presence of these mosquitoes may become the norm”, Mr Michalakakis notes.

He emphasizes that this phenomenon might also occur in other regions of Greece or in other countries lacking reliable entomological data on this specific species. According to the expert, these recent findings highlight the need for a continuous network of entomological surveillance during the winter and the implementation of an appropriate mitigation plan to protect citizens’ health.

Is Greece prepared for the constant presence of mosquitoes?

In response to this question, experts are confident that there is already a comprehensive mechanism in place to record, monitor, map, and intervene where necessary. Mr. Michailakis explaines that the presence and seasonal variation of mosquitoes are monitored using an extensive system of traps to assess nuisance levels and the presence and variation of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.

Ms. Pervanidou, a representative of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), confirmes that there is an updated management plan that includes further actions and information for public awareness.

For more detailed information and analytical maps, you can refer to the original article on Kathimerini.

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