Flies panic in France: Roads closed, people told not to leave the house

Roads were closed in the south of Paris early Thursday and people were asked to stay at home as pest control contractors sprayed pesticides on trees, green spaces and mosquito breeding grounds.

Such scenes are common in tropical cities in Southeast Asia, and the tiger mosquito, which can carry the dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses, is becoming increasingly common in Europe as well.

“This was a first in Paris, but not the first in France. The south of France has been affected by tiger mosquitoes for several years,” Anne Souyris, Deputy Mayor of Paris, responsible for health policy, told BFM television.

City officials are trying to stem a thriving chain of contamination in the Paris region, which is home to an estimated 12 million people.

If the tiger mosquito stings a person who has brought the virus from abroad, that person becomes the carrier of the disease.

Also known as Aedes albopictus, the tiger mosquito arrived in Southern Europe in the first decade of this century and has since rapidly moved north to settle in France, Germany and Switzerland.

Health experts say flies are thriving on the continent, partly due to climate change, warm weather shortens the hatching time of their eggs, and winters are no longer cold enough to kill the pests.

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