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04.07.2019 Europe

Dangerous tiger mosquitoes have 'colonised half of France'

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JUL 4, 2019 EUROPE

It's gnat season again and French authorities are urging vigilance as the tiger mosquito – which can transmit deadly tropical diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and zika – continues to bug the country.

Half of all French departments have been colonised by the “particularly invasive” mosquitoes, with experts warning that by 2030, the entire French metropolitan area will likely be hit – including urban areas.

According to health authority La Direction Générale de la Santé, tiger mosquito populations in France have doubled in the past two years.

Clumsy, small  but deadly
An online information portal says the mosquito is recognisable by the black and white stripes on its body and legs. Its generally smaller than the common mosquito and, thanks to its “clumsy pace”, it is “easy to crush in flight”.

Since the tiger mosquito first showed up in 2004, France's health ministry has released yearly updates of affected areas.

Until recently, the capital had been spared, but the notorious insect is now “implanted and active" in the greater Paris region, including Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne and Essonne.

Expensive prevention and control campaigns have been rolled out – with traps (that mainly lure and suffocate the females), repellents and bracelets on sale – but ultimately authorities warn the mites are here to stay, and people will need to learn to live with them.

“Once installed in a district, the tiger mosquito is practically impossible to get rid of,” the Ministry of Health has warned.

The first indigenous cases of tropical diseases in France were reported in 2010. Since then, 22 cases of dengue and 31 cases of Chikungunya have been recorded.