MEMO+ - Monitoring of exotic Aedes mosquitoes in Belgium

Last updated on 23-3-2022 by Marinka Vangenck

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

In short

Exotic mosquitoes, such as the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), are spreading in Europe as a result of increased globalisation and climate change. They were able to establish themselves in Southern Europe and now have also been spotted sporadically in Belgium. This mosquito can transmit viruses such as dengue, chikunguya or zika. 

Currently, the tiger mosquito is not (yet) established in Belgium, but it is in our neighboring countries. Therefore, its early detection will enable to delay its establishment and consequently to prevent outbreak of mosquito borne diseases (e.g. dengue, chikunguya or zika). 

The MEMO+ project aims to monitor the introduction of exotic Aedes mosquitoes, such as the tiger mosquito, in Belgium. The Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp actively monitors them in different points of entries. Sciensano develops and coordinates a citizen science tool that will allow citizens to notify the presence of mosquitoes by uploading their pictures to a website. Morphological identification of the mosquitoes in the picture will be done to determine whether it is a tiger mosquito or not.
 

Project summary

Introduction of exotic Aedes mosquito species has been recognized as a potential threat for biodiversity and health in Europe and also in Belgium. These mosquitoes can be vectors of viruses like chikungunya, dengue or Zika. Therefore the surveillance of mosquitoes is of paramount importance to prevent or delay as much as possible their introduction and establishment in Belgium. 

In order to prevent mosquito borne diseases due to autochthonous transmission in Belgium, a number of elements need to be in place including:

  • a good surveillance of exotic Aedes mosquitoes 
  • a good surveillance of mosquito borne diseases
  • and an integrated analysis to timely cross and interpret these informations. 

These elements are of paramount importance and only a good synergy among these elements can ensure to successfully prevent local transmission of mosquito borne diseases. 

In this context, the MEMO+ project will ensure the monitoring of exotic Aedes mosquitoes in Belgium based on two independent but complementary parts:

  1. Passive surveillance (Sciensano): will rely on citizen science, based on a website for the notification of Aedes albopictus (tiger mosquito) by citizens. The monitoring will be based on the morphological identification of the mosquito species uploaded on the website in the form of pictures.
  2. Active surveillance (ITM): based on monitoring of mosquitoes through mosquito traps and larval collection at specific points of entry such as parking lots. 

This combination of both surveillances will allow to early detect the introduction of exotic Aedes mosquitoes, in particular Aedes albopictus (tiger mosquito), in the whole territory of Belgium.

Sciensano will coordinate the overall project and it will also be responsible to coordinate and carry out the passive surveillance (citizen science), while the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) will coordinate and carry out the active surveillance.

For questions or more information about the MEMO+ project, contact the project leader Javiera Rebolledo Gonzalez.

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