Tiger mosquito: Italy to lead first European project to respond to the emergency
The research team led by Alessandra della Torre, from the Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, will lead the first European project aimed at managing the risk related to the spread of invasive mosquitos, i.e. those mosquito species – such as the tiger mosquito – which live in environments different from their native distributional range and which can cause damage to ecosystems and human health.
The AIM-Aedes Invasive Mosquito project, led by the Italian team, was the winner of the 2018 selections of COST Actions, the European funding programme supporting cooperation among researchers across Europe on projects addressing technological, social and health challenges. The project is part of the 7% of the COST projects funded by the European Union.
Over the past 30 years, invasive mosquito species – notably Aedes albopictus, the notorious tiger mosquito – have established in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, “imported” through trade, and have found excellent conditions to survive and reproduce in southern Europe. However, these mosquito species have also become potential vectors of viruses capable of causing highly debilitating diseases in humans, such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika viruses.
“The tiger mosquito”, explained Alessandra della Torre, “is not only a ‘nuisance’, but also a real public health emergency. Like other invasive mosquito species, when it comes into contact with a person infected with an exotic virus, it gets infected itself and, after a few days, transmits the virus to a healthy person”.
The new AIM-COST project aims to contribute to the development of more cost-effective approaches to control the spread of invasive mosquito species through the involvement of research institutions and companies in the sector from 29 countries in Europe and neighbouring countries. The project is also open to new scientists, public administrators and professionals in the sector from the countries involved or from other countries.
“The objective is to create a virtuous path that at the end of the 4 years of funding provides all countries with innovative and specific guidelines for the different ecological, health and economic scenarios, in synergy with the main international agencies, such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe, and the European Mosquito Control Association”, della Torre concluded.