The Ministry of Environment has released additional research on mosquitoes in Cambodia revealing that 290 species have been discovered in the Kingdom as of 2020, building on a study by a researcher at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC).

Maquart Pierre-Olivier, a researcher at the IPC’s Medical and Veterinary Entomology Unit, published a paper entitled “Checklist of the mosquito fauna (Diptera, Culicidae) of Cambodia” in August last year. Expanding on his findings, the ministry identified that among the 290 species, 49 are newly listed and have populations that are expected to increase in the future, while 43 are identified as vectors of pathogens.

The paper noted that the influence of climate change will soon affect the distribution of mosquitoes in Cambodia and might cause some species of mosquitoes to flouish in areas where they were previously absent.

It said that deforestation might also cause mosquitoes to become vectors of human-transmissible viruses, as well as new viruses that become a “cradle” for new infectious diseases.

“This perspective stresses the essential role of closely monitoring mosquito diversity and the viruses they can carry, in order to defuse any potential threats as much as possible before they appear,” it said.

The paper noted that other mosquito species were said to also exist in remote or rural areas in the country outside the scope of the study.

Three genera – or subdivisions – of mosquitoes are more active in disease transmission: Aedes, which is a vector of dengue fever; Chikungunya, Zika, and Anopheles, which are vectors of human malaria, and Culex, which serves as a vector of Yellow fever and Japanese Encephalitis.

These genera are also known to transmit Elephantiasis, a serious condition characterised by the enlargement of parts of the body, particularly the limbs.

More than 17 per cent of total communicable diseases are caused by insects and kill approximately one million people annually.

Insects – and correspondingly, their pathogens – have been introduced in every corner of the world by means of human activities such as transportation and tourism, among others.

The dengue fever caused by the Aedes aegypti species has been the most notable disease in Cambodia ever since a national pandemic in 1995 killed over 400 people.