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Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Aedes albopictus Introduction -- Texas

On August 2, 1985, the Harris County Mosquito Control District in Houston, Texas, discovered that Aedes albopictus, a mosquito of Asian origin, was established in Harris County (1); the identity of the species was confirmed by the U.S. National Museum. In a preliminary survey, A. albopictus larvae were collected at 55.8% of 163 sites inspected, suggesting the original introduction occurred some time ago. The species was most prevalent on the east side of Harris County, where the Houston Ship Channel, Ellington Field (U.S. Air Force and National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Hobby Airport, and Houston Intercontinental Airport are located.

The full distribution of A. albopictus in the Houston-Galveston area is unknown because surveys were conducted only to the Harris County line. It may extend to several adjoining counties. Reported by RE Bartnett, Harris County Mosquito Control District, BL Davis, Environmental and Consumer Health Protection, Texas Dept of Health; Div of Vector-Borne Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note:A. albopictus is a vector for dengue (2) and other arboviral diseases of humans and is susceptible to a variety of arboviruses in the laboratory (3). A. albopictus specimens have been collected or intercepted in the contiguous United States on three previous occasions, but this is the first report that breeding populations are established in this hemisphere. In a previous report identifying A. albopictus in Memphis, Tennessee (4), the source of introduction was presumed to be cargo from international shipping. However, the Memphis collection may have originated in Houston. With the discovery of an established focus of the mosquito in Texas, it is important to determine whether the species has spread to other areas and states.

In Asia, A. albopictus is primarily a woodland species that has become adapted to the urban environment. It breeds in tree holes, bamboo stumps, coconut husks, and other natural containers, as well as in tires and other discarded water-holding containers. It is not as strongly dependent on humans as A. aegypti, and it could colonize tree holes and other similar habitats in the southeastern United States. Control of this species in such natural habitats would be difficult. Competition from A. aegypti and from native tree-hole Aedes species may help retard the spread of A. albopictus (5,6). As in Hawaii (7), however, A. albopictus appears to have replaced A. aegypti. This species has apparently been established in Hawaii for a long period, but Hawaii appears to be free of dengue infections.

In Asia, A. albopictus extends as far north as Beijing, China (4), and Sendai, Japan (8). This is the approximate latitude of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Denver, Colorado, well north of the distribution of the other major dengue vector, A. aegypti. Although U.S. dengue epidemics have occurred principally in the Gulf Coast states, a major A. aegypti-transmitted dengue epidemic occurred in Philadelphia in the late 18th century (9), well north of the present distribution of A. aegypti.

The efficiency of the Houston A. albopictus population in transmitting dengue is unknown. The susceptibility of native populations of this species is known to vary from 8% to 46% (10).

In response to the introduction of A. albopictus, CDC has notified appropriate state, federal, and international agencies; has modified and intensified an ongoing surveillance program in the southeastern United States to determine the current distribution of A. albopictus; and is preparing training materials on the biology and taxonomy of the species. Meetings are planned to involve CDC, state directors of public health, and other key personnel in appropriate regional areas to develop surveillance and control strategies.

References

  1. Sprenger D, Wuithiranyagool T. The discovery and distribution of Aedes albopictus (Skuse) in Harris County, Texas. J Am Mosq Contr Assoc (in press).

  2. Russell PK, Gould DJ, Yuill TM, Nisalak Y, Winter PE. Recovery of dengue-4 viruses from mosquito vectors and patients during an epidemic of dengue hemorrhagic fever. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1969;18:580-3.

  3. Tesh RB. Experimental studies on the transovarial transmission of Kunjin and San Angelo viruses in mosquitoes. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1980;29:657-66.

  4. Reiter P, Darsie RF Jr. Aedes albopictus in Memphis, Tennessee (USA): an achievement of modern transportation? Mosq News 1984;44:396-9.

  5. Gilotra SK, Rozeboom LE, Bhattacharya NC. Observations on possible competitive displacement between populations of Aedes aegypti Linnaeus and Aedes albopictus Skuse in Calcutta. Bull WHO 1967;37:437-46.

  6. Moore CG, Fisher BR. Competition in mosquitoes. Density and species ratio effects on growth, mortality, fecundity, and production of growth retardant. Ann Entomol Soc Am 1969;62:1325-31.

  7. Usinger RL. Entomological phases of the recent dengue epidemic in Honolulu. Public Health Rep 1944;59:423-30.

  8. Mori A, Wada Y. The seasonal abundance of Aedes albopictus in Nagasaki. Trop Med 1978;20:29-37.

  9. Anonymous. Dengue. Off Res Report Publ Response, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, October 1977.

  10. Gubler DJ, Rosen L. Variation among geographic strains of Aedes albopictus in susceptibility to infection with dengue viruses. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1976;25:318-25.

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