Aedes albopictus, commonly known as Tiger Mosquito, is a black-coloured insect with characteristic white stripes on the body.Particularly aggressive against human beings, the Tiger Mosquito is active during daytime especially in the early morning and late afternoon fresh hours. It is very annoying for people who usually stay outdoors in these hours.Tiger Mosquito bites are very irritating and they can cause itchy and even painful red swellings causing sometimes a great trouble.In the tropical regions the Tiger Mosquito can be vector of serious diseases. In Emilia Romagna a Chikungunya outbreak developed in summer 2007. It is the female mosquito that bites us, in order to collect blood to feed its eggs.
The Tiger Mosquito is native of Eastern Asian regions, where it developed in the rainforest.The first detection in Europe took place in Albany. It arrived in Italy in 1990, in Genoa, with a cargo of used tires, on which the mosquitoes had laid their eggs.In Emilia-Romagna it was observed in 1994 for the first time. In little more than a decade the Tiger Mosquito colonized most territory.Like all other mosquitoes, the Tiger Mosquito has a life cycle composed of 4 stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.The last aquatic stage of the Tiger Mosquito, the pupal stage, can last between 2 and 4 days, according to temperature.The passage from the egg stage to the definitive emerging of the adult takes 6-8 days in summer. In spring and autumn it takes longer, up to 15-20 days.The ovitrap is a necessary instrument to observe the Tiger Mosquito, to monitor its populations and, consequently, to direct the fight campaign.It is very important to know the biology and the habits of the Tiger Mosquito in order to prevent its spread. But it is not enough to stop its progress.Above all, the fight against the Tiger Mosquito cannot be exclusively led by Public Administration, as it has been demonstrated that active outbreaks on public areas represent only 20-30 % of the whole municipal territory.Besides eliminating stagnant water, it is also necessary to plan periodical treatments with special products that prevent the larvae development. For the first time in Europe an autochthonous outbreak of Chikungunya developed during 2007. It is a disease caused by a virus spread by Tiger Mosquito bites. Chikungunya is an African term meaning a man “which bends up”.The first European outbreak was described in Emilia Romagna in August 2007, in the villages of Castiglione di Cervia and Castiglione di Ravenna.
In the same period the regional public health authority of Regione Emilia-Romagna worked out an active surveillance system involving all general practitioners and hospitals. The strong vector control measures against the Tiger Mosquito and their quick application helped in keeping the outbreak localized during the epidemic, chiefly in the areas of Cervia, Cesena, Ravenna and Rimini. As a whole, little more than 200 cases were registered. In November, the Italian Ministry Of Health officially declared Emilia-Romagna a virus-free area.
The Regione Emilia-Romagna implemented an experimental project for an integrated strategy for the fight against the Tiger Mosquito. The project derived from the awareness that local institutions cannot conduct this fight alone and that a coordinated effort of citizens and institutions together is the only way to win the fight against the Tiger Mosquito.