More on the mosquito that can carry the Zika virus
An invasive mosquito that can transmit Zika and other serious diseases has been found in Modesto.
The aedes aegypti mosquitoes were discovered Wednesday and last week near the intersection of Lakewood Avenue and Scenic Drive, said a news release from East Side Mosquito Abatement District and Stanislaus County public health.
It’s the first time the mosquitoes have been detected within this county.
County health officials are concerned because of the mosquitoes’ ability to transmit Zika, as well as chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever. Officials stressed that none of those viruses are known to be present in the county or elsewhere in the state, so the chances of people getting infected are slim.
Still, there is a threat that travelers infected with Zika or another virus might return to the county. If that were to happen, the mosquitoes could spread the virus locally to other people.
The Zika virus, which causes miscarriages in pregnant women and birth defects, created an international alarm in 2016 with widespread outbreaks in Central America and the Caribbean.
Zika cases dropped sharply in those regions in 2017. There is no current evidence of the disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
J. Wakoli Wekesa, general manager of the East Side district, said in Thursday’s news release that the two male mosquitoes were found in traps within 100 meters of each other, which indicates that they’re part of a breeding population.
East Side will conduct surveillance in the Lakewood and Scenic area to define the extent of the infestation. “It is our responsibility to locate and control them,” Wekesa said.
The first mosquito was discovered in a trap just north of the Lakewood-Scenic intersection on July 25. The second was found in a nearby trap Wednesday.
East Side said mosquito abatement technicians will be going door-to-door in the neighborhood for inspections and to look for sources of water where the mosquitoes can breed. The technicians could be working on residential property to eradicate any suspected mosquitoes.
“The technicians will be carrying out inspections and control activities in residents’ yards as needed and educating residents on how to prevent mosquito breeding,” the news release said.
The black and white Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are aggressive biters during daytime hours and almost always target people. Requiring much less water for their larvae compared with other species, the females lay eggs in small containers, potted plants, bird baths and fountains.
Even after the water dries, the eggs can survive for more than a week.
Health officials are counting on the public to help prevent the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. “To get rid of it, people need to be aware of it, and then prevent its establishment by eliminating standing water in and around their homes,” Wekesa said.
East Side asked residents to inspect their properties, rain gutters and lawn drains for water. Clean any potted plant containers brought home from areas of the state where Aedes aegypti lives. According to the California Department of Public Health, the mosquitoes have been found in Merced, Madera, Fresno and other counties of the San Joaquin Valley and in Southern California.
Anyone returning from regions of the world with cases of Zika, dengue or other diseases should contact a physician if they have symptoms of fever, headache and muscle pain.
To avoid mosquito bites, use insect repellent and dress in long sleeve shirts, pants, shoes and socks when outdoors. Check for holes in windows and door screens.