Authorities act to stop spread of tiger mosquito
Switzerland is on the alert after sightings in neighbouring France and Germany of the Asian tiger mosquito that can spread dangerous tropical diseases.
The mosquito has already taken up residence in the southern canton of Ticino and the Swiss health authorities are concerned that the insect might become established north of the Alps too.
They have charged the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (TPH) of Basel University with a pilot project to monitor the pest, the SDA news service reported.
It said 250 traps had been set up, including along motorways.
”It is the case that the Tropics have moved a bit closer,” Pie Müller of the vector control unit told SDA.
Müller said there had been reports of the mosquito – that has distinctive black and white striped legs – being brought into Germany.
“The tiger mosquito is also on the move along the Rhone valley to the north in France,” he said.
The biting insect was first detected in Ticino in 2003, having entered the canton in shipments of exotic plants or used car tyres.
Müller said it couldn’t be ruled out that the mosquito had since been introduced into other parts of Switzerland.
It can spread diseases that are dangerous to humans, such as Dengue fever and the Chikungunya virus.
The TPH says the traps set up along the main motorways are aimed at encouraging the mosquitos to lay their eggs there.
When the results have been gathered in the institute will be able to determine where the insects are spreading so that action can be taken.
Müller said the threat was serious but there were no grounds for panic.
“There’s no reason to fear a widespread epidemic,” he said.