The eggs of a mosquito which could carry the Zika virus - a virus which can cause babies to be born with microcephaly - have been found in a small village in the UK.
Fifteen residents in Stanford, Kent, were delivered letters from Shepway District Council telling them that Asian Tiger Mosquito eggs had been found near their properties. Shepway District Council asked Cannon Pest Control to visit the properties and spray areas in people's gardens that may contain the eggs.
‘Enhanced monitoring of the area as part of routine surveillance has been implemented and no further evidence of this mosquito has so far been found.’
The letter, from the Shepway District Council, said that Public Health England had recommended the treatment to eradicate the mosquito, its eggs and larvae as a precaution.
David Monk, Leader of Shepway District Council, said "Following the discovery of some eggs of a mosquito that is not normally native to the UK, Public Health England has recommended that the council follow standard practice and carry out a treatment as a precaution to prevent the mosquito establishing.
He said there is no risk to people's health or their family or pets from either the presence of the eggs or the eradication. "Once the identified area is sprayed, Public Health England will continue to monitor as part of its routine surveillance."he added.
Despite a wide distribution of Aedes albopictus in Europe there have been no reports of Zika transmission by Aedes albopictus. The primary vector for Zika is Aedes aegypti.
The mosquito is native to south east Asia but has spread to other countries, however it has been known to carry viruses that cause Dengu, chikungunya, yellow fever and theáZika virus.
Zika virus, which is known to be carried by a different type of mosquito - the aedes aegypti -has been officially linked to babies born with a birth defect known as microcephaly - which causes abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains, according to US health officials.
The problems caused by microcephaly often last for the whole of the babies' lives and in the most severe cases, microcephaly can be life threatening. The virus has also been linked to aáneurological condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The mosquito acts as a vector transmitting the virus from the blood of the infected person to another person. It can also be spread through sex.
Jolyon Medlock, Head of Medical Entomology at Public Health England said, "We regularly monitor mosquito species and look for any which are new to the UK. Through these activities we identified a small number of eggs from the Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger) mosquito in one trap in Kent".
Enhanced monitoring of the area was implemented and no further evidence of this mosquito has so far been found.
"As a precaution we advised the local authority to use insecticide as a means of control and will continue to monitor the situation closely through our surveillance system. There is currently no risk to public health in the UK." he added.
Samantha Cox, who received the letter, said "I was suspicious at first as it wasn't formally addressed to me, just 'The Occupier. I expected them to come round in big suits and great big spray guns but it was all very quiet.It's just something they have to do. They sprayed the water butt and anything that might collect water. They said the spray creates an oil film and suffocates the eggs."
The eggs are believed to have been found at an M20 motorway services - leading experts to believe they could have come over in lorries from the continent.