Brits are being warned deadly disease carrying mosquitos could have invaded our shores.
While our native mossies do little damage other than giving people a nasty nip, experts say the recent warm and wet weather could see disease carrying bugs from the continent cause real health issues.
The Mirror reports that mosquitoes carrying deadly viruses such as Zika, West Nile and Dengue fever are thought to have already made it over the Channel on ships, and weather conditions are currently perfect for them to breed.
While most people suffer no ill effect having been bitten, the Zeka Virus can cause serious birth defects in babies, including shrunken head syndrome, while West Nile and Dengue fevers can cause headaches, vomiting, a rash and other complications. In extremely rare cases, both conditions can be fatal.
A spokesman for the Government's Health Protection Agency said: "We think it is very likely that they are already here."
"They are voracious little beasts that will bite anything. In terms of disease transmission, that makes them very dangerous."
The invaders are believed to include the Asian Tiger mossie which can pass on 23 different infections with a single bite. Experts say they have been moving northwards through France for a number of years.
The Health Protection Agency already has plans in place to try and monitor the spread of these foreign mosquitos, including having mosquito traps at all ports to check if they are flying off ships, and launching a "mosquito watch" scheme so health experts can be on the lookout for people who turn up at GP surgeries showing symptoms.
If the problems is seen to be growing, national emergency plans include identifying potential breeding sites and using insecticides to kill the insects, and giving the public advice on how to join the fight, including eating garlic – which mosquitoes hate – or even spraying garlic-scented water on to skin.
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Mosquitoes are widely recognised as being the world's most deadly animal, with the World Health Organisation saying they cause around 300 – 500 million cases of malaria every year, and one million deaths.
However, there are no malaria carrying mosquitos in the UK. While there are 1,500 cases here every year and a handful of deaths, all of those affected caught the disease after travelling to affected areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Far East.
For advice on what precautions to take if travelling to these areas visit https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/malaria/mosquito-bite-avoidance