Illinois scientists study disease-carrying mosquito’s spread

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FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District biologist Nadja Reissen examines a mosquito in Salt Lake City. State and federal health officials are reporting a higher than usual number of deaths and illnesses from a rare, mosquito-borne virus this year. Eastern equine encephalitis has been diagnosed in a score of people in six states and several people have died so far this year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Researchers at a University of Illinois institute are studying how a disease-carrying mosquito has spread in the state over three decades.

They focused on Asian tiger mosquitoes, invasive bugs that can spread dengue fever, Zika and other diseases. The mosquitoes originated in southeast Asia, came to Texas in the 1980s and spread to Illinois.

Rebecca Smith, a professor of pathobiology, said winters are warmer in cities like Chicago because of the roads and concrete and there’s an abundance of places like sewers and subways where mosquitoes can survive in the winter, according to the university.

Researchers said the used tire trade has helped facilitate the spread of the mosquitoes, as their eggs get stuck in tires and can survive in harsh conditions, according to Chris Stone, a medical entomologist who also worked on the study.

Their research also looked at how the mosquito spread from different counties. Their findings were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

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