Volume 22, Number 10—October 2016
Etymologia: Aedes aegypti
In 1757, Fredrik Hasselqvist (a protégé of Carl Linnaeus) first described a mosquito collected in Egypt as Culex (Latin for “gnat”) aegypti (Figure), noting as the most salient feature the “glistening white” rings on the legs. Aedes (Greek for “unpleasant”) aegypti is the principal vector of several human diseases, including chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika. Yellow fever virus was among the first human viral pathogens to be discovered, and the US Army Yellow Fever Commission’s work showing that Ae. aegypti (also known as the “yellow fever mosquito”) was the principal vector remains one of the cornerstones of medical virology and tropical medicine.
Ae. aegypti arrived in the New World shortly after Europeans, transported on ships, where conditions selected for the anthropophilic Ae. aegypti subsp. aegypti. (Forest-breeding zoophagous Ae. aegypti subsp. formosus are still found in sub-Saharan Africa.) From the New World, Ae. aegypti spread across the Pacific to Asia and Australia.
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- Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
- Hasselqvist F. Iter Palaestinum, eller resa til Heliga Landet, förrättad ifrån år 1749 til 1752. Stockholm; 1757.
- Powell JR, Tabachnick WJ. History of domestication and spread of Aedes aegypti—a review. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2013;108(Suppl 1):11–7.