An aggressive daytime mosquito first spotted in Gibraltar last year has become established on the Rock “and is here to stay”, health officials said yesterday.
The Gibraltar Health Authority and the Environmental Agency first alerted the public to the presence of the ‘tiger mosquito’ in August 2017, following earlier reports of sightings in Malaga and Algeciras.
The tiger mosquito, which has black and white stripes on its body, is not native to Gibraltar and had not been previously found here.
“The tiger mosquito is now firmly established in Gibraltar and it looks like it is here to stay,” the Gibraltar Government said in a statement yesterday.
“Because it bites during the day, you are likely to be bitten at work or at school or at home if you are there during the day.”
“Bites may be more prevalent as it happens when people are up and about.”
“You may have therefore have noticed mosquito bites more than in the past.”
The first sightings of the mosquito last year raised concerns because it is a species known to transmit certain types of viral diseases.
However officials insisted yesterday there was no health risk in Gibraltar.
“At present, the discovery of this mosquito does not pose any health risks in Gibraltar and there is no immediate cause for public concern,” the statement said.
“The bites may be a nuisance, but there are no diseases in Gibraltar that this mosquito can spread.”
“In other countries, particularly the Far East and South America, where viral diseases like Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya exist, these can be spread by the tiger mosquito.”
“This is not the case in Gibraltar.”
“These viruses can however be imported by travellers returning from an overseas country and if this happens, there is a possible risk of spread, but even this can occur only if the mosquito bites the returning traveller within about a week after the fever starts, hence the risk is very small.”
Tiger mosquitos breed in water in urban areas – water butts, blocked drains, rainwater gulleys – and is able to reach high abundance around residential areas.
The government urged people to empty or dry up areas of standing water where possible, and to use repellents.
The GHA also recommended the following precautions for travellers:
• Before travelling to affected areas, consult your doctor or seek advice from a travel clinic, especially if you have an immune disorder or severe chronic illness.
• If you are pregnant or are considering pregnancy, consider postponing non-essential travel.
• When staying in a mosquito-prone area, wear mosquito repellents and take mosquito bite prevention measures.
• If you have symptoms within three weeks of return from an affected country, consult your doctor.
• If you have been diagnosed with any of the diseases Zika, Dengue or Chikungunya, take strict mosquito bite prevention measures for 10 days after the fever starts.