World Mosquito Day: COST Action against invasive species in Europe


Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet, they are vectors to diseases such as malaria, the dengue fever, chikungunya and the zika. Mosquito Day, which has been dedicated on the 20th of August since 1897, raises awareness for mosquitoes-related public health issues and gives the opportunity to remind the public that research and science are indeed moving forward on the matter.

In that regard, one particular COST Action is addressing growing issues caused by the dispersion of invasive species in Europe. By bringing together researchers and scientists from different areas, these research networks help providing guidelines and innovative solutions to fight against the dangers carried by different mosquitos’ species. COST Action, the “Aedes Invasive Mosquito” (AIM) looks specifically at the risks of introduction and spread of Exotic Invasive Aedes Mosquito Borne Viruses (EIAMBVs).

Aedes albopictus known as tiger mosquito, pic. credits: Unsplashed

Health issues caused by the arrival of the tiger mosquito in Europe

Originating from South-East Asia, the Aedes albopictus mosquito, commonly known as the tiger mosquito due to its unique body patterns, in one the 100 most invasive species on earth and can found in about 100 countries. Because of the increase of trade, travels, and people displacement, several Aedes species have been introduced into Europe. They are now spreading spectacularly rapidly becoming a widespread significant public health risk which needs to be effectively addressed, as testified by recent cases of autochthonous chikungunya and dengue transmission.

At European scale, Aedes albopictus is known to have been responsible for epidemics, for example in southern and center Italy where almost 500 cases of chikungunya were recorded in 2017[1] resulting in long lasting sequels for some of them. It should also be noted that the tiger mosquito is flourishing in its indigenous countries: climate change, increase of non-sanitized urban areas and ecosystems’ perturbations greatly favour its reproduction and therefore dispersion.

Dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses are challenging European health agencies. In their light forms, they can only be described with flu-like diseases, with no symptoms in most cases (making data collection extremely difficult). Spreading of the disease is extremely efficient:  one bite from an mosquito infected with chikungunya can spread the virus to the bitten person.  [2]

Finally, and this is probably the most concerning element, no vaccines nor specific treatments are available on the market which makes prevention event more important.

A transboundary network of partners across Europe to fight against the spread of EIAMBV

Transboundary risks require effective surveillance, risk assessment, and vector control, with efficient dissemination of information and guidance to stakeholders, requiring collaboration between the normative, research, public health, commercial and civil society sectors at international, national and local scales. But this is currently not the case in Europe, despite the range of institutional guidelines available. Indeed, current mitigation activities are largely uncoordinated and implemented piecemeal nationally or locally, reducing cost-effectiveness and impact.

COST Action “Aedes Invasive Mosquitoes” (AIM) is the first European-level network focusing on both invasive and autochthone’s mosquito species and aims to establish a gender, age and geographically balanced network of partners and institutions across Europe to effectively address the management of the risk of introduction and spread of Exotic Invasive Aedes mosquito borne viruses (EIAMBVs). In tropical areas, Aedes mosquitos cause more than 100 million symptomatic cases/year of viral diseases, such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and Zika, and thousands of deaths.

During its 4 years funding under COST, from 2018 till 2022, the AIM Action wishes to create a virtuous path to share knowledge and give clear rules on effective approaches of the Aedes mosquito monitoring and surveillance, thus in synergy with the main European agencies including the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the World Health Organization , and the European Mosquito Control Association .

The COST Action is also facilitating the development of new innovative tools, such as the “Mosquito Alert” App, a non-profit cooperative citizen science project coordinated by different public research centers, and to which AIM has provided important relevant data.

The Action also works with involvement of civil society and citizen scientists and focus on collaborative dissemination ensuring that technical outputs and guidelines are customised at different geographical scales for each operational stakeholder group. Lessons learned will be transferrable to other emerging vector borne diseases worldwide.

More information

COST Action Aedes Invasive Mosquitoes

Aedes Invasive Mosquitoes’ website

[1] source: A comparative analysis of the 2007 and 2017 Italian chikungunya outbreaks and implication for public health response:

[2]Chikungunya fact sheet (