The heat that France has known for a few days brings its share of good news, but also bad news: drought, heat wave … and mosquito invasion.
One species is particularly feared: the Aedes albopictus, better known as the tiger mosquito. Robot portrait of the suspect: it is native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia, it is less than 5 millimeters in size (smaller than a penny), a black and white striped body, it stings during the day, is silent and its sting is very painful.
The tiger mosquito can be a vector of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya or even zika (since 2015). But it cannot transmit these diseases, even if it is contaminated.
A species present since 2004 in metropolitan France
In Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the invasive insect has been present since 2012. The Agence régionale de santé (ARS) in the region describes the tiger mosquito as “implanted and active” in various departments: l’Ain, l’Ardèche, the Drôme, the Isère, the Loire, the Puy-de-Dôme, the Rhône, the Savoie, the Haute-Savoie, and since 2020, the Cantal.
As for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, the tiger mosquito has been present since 2004. Along with the Occitania region, it is the region most affected by the tiger mosquito in the Hexagon. Thus, more than 62% of the communes are colonized and 97% of the population lives in contact with insects.
In our departments, only the Vaucluse has a percentage of colonized communes greater than 40% (as of January 1, 2022).
39 cases of dengue recorded in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and PACA in 2021
In 2021, 164 cases of tiger mosquito dengue were listed in France. Among them, 20 cases of dengue have been identified in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, while the Paca region has seen 19 similar cases and one case of chikungunya. The vast majority of dengue cases were imported from Reunion Island (108).
With the strong heat coming back, the tiger mosquito is spreading in all departments, even in those where it is not yet present.
Interrogated by the Dauphiné Libéré in early May, the Interdepartmental Agreement for the mosquito control of the Rhône-Alpes region (EID Rhône-Alpes) stated that “all the conditions are almost met for it [le moustique-tigre, NDLR] begins to proliferate again. As the larvae develop, the first nuisances should be felt in late May, early June. »
So far, no cases of tiger mosquito virus transmission have been observed in mainland France. It is overseas that cases of disease have been reported, thanks to even more favorable climatic conditions for its proliferation (tropical climate, therefore hot and humid).
Simple steps to protect yourself from tiger mosquitoes
As more than 80% of tiger mosquitoes establish their nests in private properties, the government relies on the action and vigilance of the population to eradicate areas of proliferation.
To combat the proliferation of this highly invasive species, health authorities recommend a few simple steps:
- Remove so-called “stagnant” water, that is, areas where water rots on the surface (saucers under plant pots, tarpaulins, containers left outside…);
- Regularly clean gardens and terraces (including gutters and trash cans);
- In the most exposed areas, install mosquito nets on doors and windows and turn on the air conditioning;
- Wear long clothes and protect your feet and ankles.
- Impregnate your clothes with a repellent insecticide or use skin repellents (on the advice of your doctor or pharmacist), which will keep mosquitoes away without killing them.
According to the National Health Safety Agency (Anses), tiger mosquito bites are different from other itchy insect bites that occur very quickly and intensify for several minutes after the bite.
A blister-like blister may appear. The tiger mosquito bite scratches almost instantly, and then the itching goes away. However, they can reappear for several days in the event of a change in temperature (after a shower, for example).