Illinois scientists study disease-carrying mosquito’s spread

The Asian tiger mosquitoes, which are invasive bugs that can spread dengue fever, Zika and other diseases, originated in southeast Asia, came to Texas in the 1980s and spread to Illinois.

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Rebecca Smith (right), a professor of pathobiology, said winters are warmer in cities like Chicago because of the roads and concrete and there’s an abundance of places like sewers and subways where mosquitoes can survive in the winter, according to the university.

Photo by Fred Zwicky, courtesy of University of Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers at a University of Illinois institute are studying how a disease-carrying mosquito has spread in the state over three decades.

They focused on Asian tiger mosquitoes, invasive bugs that can spread dengue fever, Zika and other diseases. The mosquitoes originated in southeast Asia, came to Texas in the 1980s and spread to Illinois.

Rebecca Smith, a professor of pathobiology, said winters are warmer in cities like Chicago because of the roads and concrete and there’s an abundance of places like sewers and subways where mosquitoes can survive in the winter, according to the university.

Researchers said the used tire trade has helped facilitate the spread of the mosquitoes, as their eggs get stuck in tires and can survive in harsh conditions, according to Chris Stone, a medical entomologist who also worked on the study.

Their research also looked at how the mosquito spread from different counties. Their findings were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

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