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Monday 24th October 2016

UK disease risk from mosquito

27th May 2008

A type of Asian mosquito which carries a "potentially lethal disease" could invade the UK over the summer months.


The Asian tiger mosquito is prevalent in the north of Italy and carries a disease known as chikungunya fever. The mosquitoes have also been spotted in other countries in Europe.

292 "suspected" cases of the disease were recorded during June to September in the north-eastern Italian region called Ravenna.

Chikungunya fever causes a few days of illness, followed by severe headaches, aches and insomnia for weeks afterwards.

Government's Health Protection Agency (HPA) scientists working at laboratories in Porton Down in Wiltshire have confirmed that the summer temperature in Britain is sufficient for the mosquito to thrive.

"The mosquito has popped up across Europe and although we haven't found it yet in the UK, we have identified the potential for it to come here," said a spokesman.

The mosquito was originally spread to Europe via a Chinese house plant kept in water containers, which is popular in Rotterdam.

Six people returned from holiday to England with chikungunya fever in 2004. This figure rose to over 130 in 2006.

"You do need several steps in the chain for it to become an issue, but it's something we've been keeping an eye on. Most people think of malaria, but there are other things you can catch from mosquitoes," the spokesman said.


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