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Open Access Highly Accessed Short report

Distribution of Aedes albopictus (Diptera, Culicidae) in southwestern Pacific countries, with a first report from the Kingdom of Tonga

Laurent Guillaumot1*, Reynold Ofanoa2, Lucien Swillen3, Narendra Singh4, Hervé C Bossin5 and Francis Schaffner6

Author Affiliations

1 Institut Pasteur de Nouvelle Calédonie, 9–11 Avenue Paul Doumer, Association Pasteur International Network ,Nouvelle-caledonie, Noumea, BP 61, 98845, New Caledonia

2 Ministry of Health, Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga

3 Retired WHO Technical Officer, Tontouta, New Caledonia

4 Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji

5 Institut Louis Malardé, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

6 Institute of Parasitology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:247  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-247

Published: 6 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus is currently one of the most notorious globally invasive mosquito species. Its medical importance is well documented, and its fast expansion throughout most continents is being monitored with concern. It is generally assumed that its expansion through the Western Pacific island countries has not progressed since its establishment in Fiji in 1989. However, the current status of Ae. albopictus in the Pacific region is largely unknown.

Findings

According to data from the literature and our own observations, Ae. albopictus is currently present in the following countries of the southern Pacific region: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, and the Kingdom of Tonga, where it was first detected in July 2011. It is absent from New Caledonia and French Polynesia where routine entomological surveillance is carried out, and was not detected during entomological work in 2007, either on the Cook Islands or on the Wallis and Futuna Islands. The species was not reported from American Samoa in 2004, but it is mentioned as probably present in Vanuatu. This is the first report of Ae. albopictus in Tonga.

Conclusions

The introduction and establishment of Ae. albopictus in Tonga was expected due to the geographical proximity of this country to Fiji where the species is strongly established. The pathway of introduction is unknown. The expansion of Ae. albopictus in the Pacific region poses an increasing threat to public health given the role this mosquito plays as primary vector of emerging infectious diseases such as Chikungunya fever.

Keywords:
Aedes albopictus; Vector; Distribution; Pacific islands; Tonga; Introduction