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Dengue mosquitoes invade capital

Mosquitoes capable of spreading dengue fever have invaded the capital, according to a study published February 18 in the science journal Parasites & Vectors.

In the study, the Aedes albopictus mosquito species, previously thought to only live outside Phnom Penh, was recorded living at 40 different locations in the capital. Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the species most responsible for spreading dengue fever.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes from both the Aedes aegypti species and the Aedes albopictus species, with Aedes aegypti being responsible for more dengue cases overall.

The two mosquitoes are also vectors of chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses, according to the WHO.

The recent study was carried out by the Medical and Veterinary Entomology Unit at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge.

The article summarising the study read: “Surprisingly, Ae. Albopictus was found in 40 sites including urban areas. This result attests to its recent and massive installation and distribution throughout the entire city.”

The species migrated from forests in Southeast Asia due to human-created pollutants in the environment and adapted from a wild diet to feeding on animal and human blood, it added.

The article continued: “Human migration favoured its spread into new areas, and it rapidly became an opportunistic container breeder, using either natural or artificial containers, having the ability to survive in small collections of water in tyres, plastic buckets and plastic cups.”