Which mosquito bites me at home? An app helps to understand it (to fight it) – Corriere.it

Which mosquito bites me at home? An app helps to understand it (to fight it) – Corriere.it
Which mosquito bites me at home? An app helps to understand it (to fight it) – Corriere.it

The mosquito is the worst nightmare of the summer. To avoid it, you need to know it. Easy to say, but now even easier to do. Thanks to the application Mosquito alert, to be downloaded for free on their smartphone, citizens can learn about the type of mosquito that buzzes in the ears, its danger and the ways to fight infestations.

Participatory science

It is a citizen science initiative, ie participatory science, which in addition to educating the user to learn how to protect themselves from bites, helps researchers map invasive species in circulation and to report to the Municipalities the most affected public areas where to intervene with treatments. How does it work? The citizen sends a insect photograph, which is validated by the project task force made up of experts from the Sapienza University of Rome, the University of Bologna, the Higher Institute of Health, the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Venice and the Science Museum of Trento. You just need to submit a simple report without photos, locating yourself and specifying if the mosquito is outdoors, inside a vehicle or a building. Another way to collaborate is to send a snapshot of the sting, indicating the part of the body that was stung. Or a larval breeding site may be reported (the larval stage corresponds to the first life stage of the mosquito). For all information, from larvicides to repellents and individual protections to be used, from the biological cycle of the insect to the diseases it can transmit, you can consult the Allertazanzarevirus.com web platform connected to the application. «To train awareness, each user can try to guess the species posted by another user. The more reports you make, the more points you earn, ”says Beniamino Caputo, researcher at the Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases at Sapienza, head of the task force.

The most common species

Mosquito alert, available in 20 other countries, is part of the European project Aedes invasive mosquito (Aim) Cost, created to combat invasive mosquitoes and coordinated by Alessandra Della Torre, professor of Parasitology at the Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases of Sapienza. Mosquitoes, despite being very annoying and some can become dangerous through the transmission of viruses, like every element in nature, they also have a utility: in pollination and in the animal food chain, constituting the source of nutrition of birds and bats (and of many fish when they are in the initial stage of larva and pupa). In the world there are about three thousand species but only 200 are the hematophagous ones, that is, that sting human beings. To do this are exclusively the females, who after mating need to supply themselves with our blood to bring the fertilized eggs to maturity and reproduce. The life cycle of the mosquito is quite short. The stage of development, from egg, to larva, to pupa to adult mosquito, usually lasts from one (when temperatures are high) to three weeks (when it is colder). The adults then survive for three to four weeks on average. «In Italy 64 different species of mosquitoes have been reported – explains Caputo -. The two most common are Culex pipiens, the common mosquito, the nocturnal mosquito, and Aedes albopictus, known as Tiger mosquito, which attacks even during the day, and of which theItaly is the European country with the highest level of infestation“. The perfect breeding habitat for mosquitoes is the residues of stagnant water, where the eggs are nested. “Like canals, manholes, garbage bags, watering cans and flower saucers, which must be emptied once a week to avoid the creation of a larval outbreak” warns Caputo.

Health risks and what to do

Some mosquitoes, if in turn infected, can become vectors of viruses capable of causing serious diseases to humans. In Italy, the three main viruses transmitted by infected mosquito bites are West Nile, Chikungunya and Dengue. “The symptoms are similar to those of the flu, such as fever, headache, nausea, muscle and joint pain. They are underestimated and in the summer most of the time confused with those of a sunstroke – continues Caputo -. Chikungunya virus also causes a skin rash, which is redness and thickening of the skin. While in the most serious cases the Dengue disease can develop in the form of hemorrhagic fever and West Nile in about one case out of a thousand triggers lethal encephalitis ». Mosquitoes, let us remember, are not able to transmit Sars-Cov2, which is a respiratory virus, which is transmitted mainly through the droplets emitted from the mouth and nose, when the infected person sneezes, coughs, speaks or breathes and is in proximity to other people. “In the event of summer fever, one must immediately suspect that it may be an infection transmitted by a mosquito infected – recommends the coordinator of the task force -. The family doctor should therefore be contacted who will be able to prescribe diagnostic tests to investigate the presence of these viruses ».

June 2, 2021 (change June 2, 2021 | 16:31)

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