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An invasion of mosquitoes hits Buenos Aires


Highlights: Experts attribute the proliferation of 'Aedes albifasciatus' to the rains. It is the second time in less than two months that there has been a significant increase in these insects in the Argentine province. Experts warn that this species does not transmit diseases such as dengue, although it is linked to equine encephalitis, which mainly affects animals and caused an outbreak in the country. The Government of Javier Milei has taken advantage of this second invasion of mosquitoes to attack the opposition.

Experts attribute the proliferation of 'Aedes albifasciatus' to the rains, the second in less than two months in the Argentine province

Hordes of mosquitoes have invaded Buenos Aires this week.

It is the second time in two months that there has been a significant increase in these insects in the Argentine province.

Specialists explain that the increase in

Aedes albifasciatus

, commonly known as the flood mosquito, is a product of the intense rains of the southern summer.

Given the alarms that this second invasion has raised, experts warn that this species does not transmit diseases such as dengue, although it is linked to equine encephalitis, which mainly affects animals and caused an outbreak in the country.

The explanation given by scientists for the sudden increase in mosquitoes of this species is simple.

The eggs laid by

Aedes albifasciatus

females in the humid substrate can resist during long periods of drought and hatch when water accumulates from precipitation.

Biologist Sylvia Fischer, researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Conicet), explained it this way during the first invasion, in January, in a Conicet publication: “A large number of eggs had accumulated.

When it began to rain continuously (...) these eggs all hatched synchronously, the larvae developed simultaneously and enormous numbers of adults emerged, all at the same time."

The rains in January and those that occurred recently in the province of Buenos Aires caused the “peaks of abundance” of mosquitoes that scientists describe.

This second time, however, the invasion occurred “with more force,” according to biologist Victoria Micieli, because the “old eggs” that did not hatch in January were joined by “new eggs” laid by the female mosquitoes that hatched. were developed on that occasion.

“It is common for this invasion to occur every three years, but we did not expect the second one,” says Micieli, who is director of the Conicet Center for Parasitological and Vector Studies.

In that sense, the scientist explains to EL PAÍS, this week's proliferation is something “quite unusual.”


Aedes albifasciatus

is a mosquito that has a very wide distribution in Argentina, from the south, in the province of Tierra del Fuego, to the north of the country.

Invasions like this, Micieli points out, occur in different areas of the country at different times of the year.

The insect, large in size, with a thin body and elongated legs, causes, above all, a lot of annoyance and thrives in parks or squares.

The females, who bite humans, can be very aggressive.

Specialists are studying the link of this species with equine encephalitis, a disease that in 2023 caused an outbreak in horses in the center and north of the country and caused at least 12 infections in humans after more than two decades without records.

Did you know about "storm mosquitoes"?

☂️ We tell you the reason for this invasion and some recommendations 🦟

— Municipality of La Plata (@LaPlataMLP) February 19, 2024

Specialists warn, however, that this species does not transmit dengue, whose vector is another mosquito, the

Aedes aegypti


This second insect is smaller, has white spots and reproduces mainly in containers that accumulate water inside or around houses.

Last Friday, the Pan American Health Organization issued an epidemiological alert due to the increase in dengue cases in America, where more than 670,000 positive cases were registered.

In Argentina, there have been 48,366 infected since July 2023 and 35 people have died, the majority in the northeast of the country, according to the latest National Epidemiological Bulletin.

Its neighbor Brazil is the country that registers the most cases in the region: there there are more than 530,000 positive cases and 90 deaths, the worst data in 40 years.

This week, Brazil became the first country in the world to include the dengue vaccine in public healthcare.

The ruling party blames the previous management

The Government of Javier Milei has taken advantage of this second invasion of mosquitoes, which has the media and social networks on alert, to attack the Peronism of Unión por la Patria, which is in the opposition, but governed for the last four years.

The presidential spokesperson, Manuel Adorni, mixed this Tuesday in the same conversation “the proliferation of mosquitoes” with “the cases of dengue.”

“We do not want to lose sight of the fact that a large part of this problem is due to the responsibility that was had in the failure of the prevention policies that have been implemented during the past year.

Prevention was not well implemented,” said the official and the opposition responded to him on social networks.

“To say that dengue is the responsibility of the previous management (...) speaks of total ignorance in the cycle of the disease,” said Fabián Puratich, who was undersecretary of Systems Integration and Primary Health Care, in X ( formerly Twitter).

“Incredible stupidity,” criticized Deputy Pablo Yedlin and criticized the Government for the fact that the dengue vaccine, approved in November by the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology, is not included in the vaccination schedule nor is it distributed free in public hospitals: “There is a safe and effective vaccine, is there anything new with that?”

A computer shows a photograph taken with a microscope, in Buenos Aires.Pablo Barrera (Getty Images)

Micieli, who has been researching mosquitoes for more than 30 years, maintains that “it is hasty” to hold a government responsible for the proliferation of

Aedes albifasciatus

and that it is “misinformation” to associate this increase with the increase in dengue cases because they are two species. totally different."

In both cases, the biologist maintains, “it is not true” that there are no prevention policies.

“It is insufficient, of course.

Mosquito control requires a lot of financing,” says the researcher.

In response to the invasion of mosquitoes, the Government of the City of Buenos Aires announced this week the reinforcement of “disinfestation” operations in green spaces, parks and squares.

50 kilometers from the capital, the municipality of La Plata, for its part, assured that it will distribute 2,000 units of repellent free of charge since there is a shortage of this product in stores and pharmacies.

In early January, the same thing happened and scientists recalled that it is “one of the only tools that humans have to counteract the effects of mosquito invasions.”

Experts estimate that relief will come in the next 10 or 15 days, when the population of this species drops, although it will depend on whether it rains again.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2024-02-21

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