Mosquitoes are back for summer in Istanbul, more ubiquitous than ever

Experts have dismissed them as a serious danger, but mosquitoes are becoming more of a nuisance in Istanbul every day in summer. Their prevalence seems to be more frequent, while their activity is not limited to the night, according to the inhabitants.

In Yeşilkent, a neighborhood near a stream in Avcılar district, on the European side of Turkey’s most populous city, residents report itchy skin and complain about the lack of action by municipalities to contain the growing threat of mosquitoes.

Aedes, a genus of mosquitoes that has spread across the world in a few decades as an invasive species once endemic to tropical and subtropical areas, is the main species that ruins the daily life of Istanbulites.

Residents of Yeşilkent complain about the municipality’s inadequate extermination work. “Everyone has a mosquito problem,” Muharrem Kurnaz, a shopkeeper, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday as he showed mosquito bites on his body. “Mosquitoes are everywhere, whether it’s when I’m sitting on the balcony of my house or in my store,” he complains. “I use mosquito repellent but a bottle runs out in two days. The municipality should send teams to exterminate them,” he said.

Another resident, Ipek Uslu, says they can’t get a good night’s sleep because of the mosquitoes, and they particularly affect children. “Their bodies are full of bites. There should be a solution to this,” she said.

Professor Kenan Midilli, a virology expert from Istanbul University’s Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine, says the aedes genus has been more common in Turkey since 2010 and is spreading due to “higher global mobility and changing climatic”. Midilli advises people to use mosquito nets indoors and repellents when outdoors.

He said there was no infection carried by aedes and culex, another widespread genus reported in Turkey. “Aedes, for example, spread certain diseases prevalent in Africa, India, the Far East and South America to people they bit. With the exception of West Nile fever, none of them are endemic in our region at this time. But mosquitoes may still pose a threat for the future as they now inhabit our country. Diseases endemic in the tropics and subtropics may also be endemic here,” he said.

Midilli cited deaths from West Nile fever in Turkey in recent years, including Istanbul. “There is no acute danger yet but the number of mosquitoes is too high. They are particularly aggressive and attack during the day,” he added.

Midilli says another solution to mosquitoes was to remove puddles from the streets. “They are their breeding ground. Along with puddles, they proliferate at the bottom of flower pots (where excess water when watering plants accumulates),” he said. Midilli also called on people to empty water daily from water bowls left on the streets for stray animals and replace it with fresh water.

Associate Professor Necla Birgül Iyison, an expert in molecular biology and genetics from Boğaziçi University, says early action can prevent mosquitoes from breeding. “They don’t have good flying skills and move slowly. So when you see a few mosquitoes around, make sure all nearby puddles are cleaned,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA).

Iyison also pointed out that Istanbul has all the circumstances that help mosquitoes thrive, from its location as a transit point for sea and air traffic, to its high tourism potential, to being in a place favored by migrating birds. the impact of climate change on the city. .

“Aedes can adapt to different climates and thus they can spread easily,” she said, adding that the uncontrolled dumping of old tires and plant exports have also helped them multiply easily. Used tires are an ideal breeding ground for insects because they can store rainwater and are often warm enough to lay eggs.

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