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Research in the Journal of Medical Entomology (1) demonstrated a preference by a particular type of mosquito (Aedes albopictus) for secretors of blood group O over all other blood groups, and significantly more than blood group A. The study also showed that skin treated with the blood group antigen of O blood (the H antigen, containing the disaccharide fucose) was also more attractive to the mosquitoes than skin treated with the blood group A antigen, which in turn was more attractive than skin treated with the blood group B antigen.
These mosquitoes appear to prefer one blood group in particular (blood group antigens are present in large numbers on the skin of secretors), but why is this information important?
Aedes albopictus (the Asian Tiger Mosquito) is now present in more than thirty states of the US. In the Northeast, it has been reported from York County, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Salem, and Monmouth counties in New Jersey. The Asian tiger mosquito has demonstrated the ability to survive in states as far north as Minnesota and Delaware (2).
The Asian tiger mosquito has great potential to carry diseases into a substantial portion of the United States. In the Central region of the US, this species has been linked to the transmission of LaCrosse Encephalitis and the West Nile Virus (3). There have been several documented cases of Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever in southern Texas (4) due to the increased numbers of Aedes Albopictus in that region.
Most mosquitoes feed at dawn and dusk and rest in the foliage during the day, and will generally bite during the day only if you go into their shady resting spots. The Asian tiger mosquito however will readily leave its shady resting area to feed even in the direct sun. It is an agressive day-biter and is most active from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is not a strong flyer so it does not travel far from its breeding habitat (5). It prefers to bite the foot, followed by the hand, then the face (6).
The Asian Tiger mosquito is thought to have arrived in the US in tyres (7): it is a 'container breeder', reproducing in artificial water containers such as tyres, flower pots, buckets and rain gutters, as well as natural containers such as bamboo, bromeliads, and tree holes (imported tyres are now checked for mosquitoes).
People living in certain areas of the United States may therefore be at risk of exposure to diseases not normally associated with mosquito bites, and in locations not normally associated with mosquitoes. Blood group O secretors may be at higher risk than others from bites from the Asian tiger mosquito, and should ensure that their feet, hands and face are well protected even during the day. Any recent mosquito bites should be reported to a physician when presenting with a fever.
1. Shirai Y, Funada H, Seki T, Morohashi M, Kamimura K.
J Med Entomol. 2004 Jul;41(4):796-9.
Landing preference of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) on human skin among ABO blood groups, secretors or nonsecretors, and ABH antigens. [Pubmed 15311477]
2. Moore CG, Francy DB, Eliason DA, Monath TP.
J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 1988 Sep;4(3):356-61.
Aedes albopictus in the United States: rapid spread of a potential disease vector. [Pubmed 3058869]
3. Romi R, et. al.
Med Vet Entomol. 2004 Mar;18(1):14-9.
Potential vectors of West Nile virus following an equine disease outbreak in Italy. [Pubmed 15009441]
4. Mitchell CJ, Miller BR, Gubler DJ.
J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 1987 Sep;3(3):460-5.
Vector competence of Aedes albopictus from Houston, Texas, for dengue serotypes 1 to 4, yellow fever and Ross River viruses. [Pubmed 2849638]
6. Shirai Y, Funada H, Kamimura K, Seki T, Morohashi M.
J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2002 Jun;18(2):97-9.
Landing sites on the human body preferred by Aedes albopictus.
7. Hawley WA, Reiter P, Copeland RS, Pumpuni CB, Craig GB Jr.
Science. 1987 May 29;236(4805):1114-6.
Aedes albopictus in North America: probable introduction in used tires from northern Asia.
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