Firm warns Scots about po­ten­tial health risks from new ‘su­per­midge’

The Oban Times - - Letters -

CHANGES to the Scot­tish cli­mate could soon see the rise of a new species of ‘su­per­midge’ which has the po­ten­tial to trans­mit dis­ease to hu­mans, ac­cord­ing to industry ex­perts.

Pyra­mid Travel Prod­ucts says the in­creased num­ber of for­eign species be­ing found in Scot­land could be bad news for agri­cul­ture, tourism, and even hu­man health.

In Scot­land the most com­mon form of midge bite comes from the Culi­coides im­punc­ta­tus species (bet­ter known as high­land bit­ing midge) which is re­spon­si­ble for 90 per cent of bites. De­spite this, there are now more than 37 dif­fer­ent species of midge known to ex­ist across Scot­land.

There has been in­creas­ing con­cern about more ag­gres­sive species of midges be­ing blown over from Europe, in­clud­ing Cu

li­coides ob­so­le­tus. Th­ese species have been re­spon­si­ble for out­breaks of deadly Blue­tongue and Sch­mal­len­burg virus in live­stock.

Although th­ese dis­eases are not com­mu­ni­ca­ble to hu­mans, there are con­cerns that some midges have the po­ten­tial to trans­mit dis­ease in ways sim­i­lar to mos­qui­toes, with re­search al­ready un­der way to try to un­der­stand the chang­ing dynamic.

Ni­cola Cameron from Pyra­mid Travel Prod­ucts said: ‘Scots are used to deal­ing with the nui­sance and dis­com­fort caused by midge bites, but there are con­cerns that a new breed of ‘su­per­midge’ could in time bring new prob­lems, not con­fined to the usual dis­com­fort as­so­ci­ated with the High­land midge.

‘Whilst the High­land midge is un­doubt­edly a pest, should a new species es­tab­lish them­selves in Scot­land with the po­ten­tial to carry dis­ease to hu­mans, there could be an ob­vi­ous im­pact for agri­cul­ture, tourism, and gen­eral health.’

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