Warming climate expands mosquito habitat

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Signature line: Robert C. Jones Jr.

Decades of temperature and humidity records are falling like dominoes, with many cities around the world issuing heat advisories for days on end, and many people suffering from scorching heat. are forced to rush to urban cooling centers to escape the harsh weather.

But in the sultry, humid environments where many people are forced to stay indoors, a creature from the Jurassic thrives: mosquitoes.

As global temperatures continue to rise, the areas in which this pesky insect thrives are likely to expand, according to University of Miami officials, with more communities becoming infected with malaria, dengue, chikungunya, West Nile virus and more. health scientists who would be at risk of vector-borne diseases.

“Unfortunately, as global warming continues, mosquito ranges will expand, and this trend will accelerate,” said John Byer, professor and chair of the Miller School of Medicine’s Division of Environment and Public Health. He holds a PhD in public health science. “Mosquitoes can’t regulate their body temperature.

With six cases of vector-borne illness reported in Sarasota County since May and Florida receiving a statewide health advisory against malaria, renewed attention is being focused on mosquitoes.

Byer, whose research focuses on the biology and control of vector-borne diseases, answers questions about incredibly resilient mosquitoes and locally transmitted malaria cases in southwestern Florida. .

How common is malaria in the United States? How concerned should we be about widespread transmission after six cases were reported in southwestern Florida?

About 2,000 cases of malaria are recorded each year in the United States, almost all of them by people who have contracted malaria abroad. Six cases in Florida and one in Texas are community-acquired. What this means is that this guy had malaria in two places. Local mosquitoes bit already infected people, and the insects became infected and bit other people. These local cases are not much of a cause for concern. Most mosquitoes usually do not travel more than a mile from their breeding grounds.

How many types of mosquitoes are there and which ones carry malaria?

There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world. About 50 species live here in Miami, but only six of them are important vectors. Infectious female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria. Infected Aedes aegypti (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) can carry Zika, Chikungunya and yellow fever viruses.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 619,000 malaria deaths will occur in 2021. Where is malaria most common and what are its symptoms?

Malaria occurs mainly in impoverished tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Infected people experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur.

What do mosquitoes need to reproduce?

They need stagnant water to complete their life cycle. Eggs can be laid in a capful of water from a plastic bottle. And they can go from egg to bite adult in just five days. Only female mosquitoes bite humans and animals to obtain the blood meal needed to lay eggs. Male mosquitoes feed on the natural sugars of flowers.

How long do mosquitoes live?

10 to 15 days if you’re lucky. Their daily survival rate is about 90 percent. That means about 10 percent of the population dies every day. Hot temperatures and high humidity are a concern because they can prolong survival, but older mosquitoes are more likely to carry viruses and parasites, so that makes a difference.

What research are you currently doing related to mosquitoes?

We are still participating in vector control projects in Mali, West Africa. This research is being conducted through the Innovative Vector Control Consortium and includes an attractive, toxic sugar bait. We exploit the need for both male and female mosquitoes to consume important sugars. We attract mosquitoes to sugar baits containing insecticides that kill mosquitoes.

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