The tropical disease chikungunya began twisting Western tongues in July when the first locally transmitted case was reported in Florida. Spotted in the Caribbean just last year, the disease spread explosively throughout the Americas in 2014. Chikungunya’s arrival in Panama prompted Smithsonian scientists to examine how human activity spreads its mosquito vector and the serious implications this has for disease ecology everywhere.
Chikungunya causes fever, fatigue and joint swelling and is transmitted by the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. The tiger mosquito also spreads dengue, so the study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases also holds a cautionary tale for dengue-eradication programs, which primarily target another mosquito, the virus’s main vector, Aedes aegypti.
Asian tiger mosquito
Geographic Expansion of the Invasive Mosquito Aedes albopictus across Panama – Implications for Control of Dengue and Chikungunya Viruses, Miller MJ, Loaiza JR, PLoS Negl Trop Dis, doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003383, published 8 January 2015.
JRL’s field work was supported by INDICASAT-AIP, STRI, and a National Research Investigator award (SNI) from the Panama’s Secretariat for Science and Technology (SENACYT). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.