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Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya! The Mosquitoes Capable of Carrying These Viruses May Show Up in San Joaquin County!

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Remember all the talk about the 2016 Olympics and Zika virus in Brazil? The media was bustling with facts, prevention and even some myths. The mosquitoes of concern for many parts of South America and Mexico are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Aedes aegypti is commonly called the yellow fever mosquito. I prefer to call it the aegypti mosquito to avoid confusion about several different diseases it can potentially carry. The common name for Aedes albopictus mosquito is the Asian tiger mosquito. Collectively you will hear them referred to as the Invasive Aedes. These mosquitoes have some menacing habits, making them difficult to control.

Both species are urban mosquitoes that will bite indoors and outdoors. The females prefer to feed on humans for blood meals. Each blood meal is used as protein for their eggs. They are both aggressive daytime biting mosquitoes that tend to target ankles, wrists and elbows of their victims. The females lay eggs in small containers including dishes under potted plants, bird baths, ornamental fountains, tin cans and discarded tires. The eggs are laid just above the waterline of the container. They can survive dry conditions for a period of six months or more. When water reaches the eggs they will hatch. Once established in an area, these mosquitoes are very difficult to control. Most important are the mosquito-borne diseases that they can carry.

These mosquitoes have the potential to carry Zika, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and other viruses of human health concern. The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are great resources for information on symptoms, risks and prevention of these diseases.

Why is San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District working to prevent these invasive Aedes from finding their way to our county? First of all, they are close. Both species are found in Southern California and aegypti mosquitoes are as close as Madera and Fresno. Folks, that’s only about 100 miles away! Second, once they become established, they are very difficult to eradicate because of their egg-laying habits and resistance to heat and dry periods. Third, and most importantly, these mosquitoes are not only a nuisance but are a public health threat.

The District is actively trapping for these mosquitoes throughout San Joaquin County. Early detection is primary to their eradication. So the District is asking for your help. Please report daytime biting mosquitoes! Many counties in California detected the invasive Aedes through call-ins by residents. Again, please call in daytime biting mosquitoes at 209-982-4675 or 1-800-300-4675.

What else can you do? Use mosquitofish in abandoned swimming pools, water troughs and ornamental ponds. These fish can be obtained by calling the District if you live in cities or rural areas of San Joaquin County. Drain standing water from items such as old tires, buckets, tarps, kiddie pools and any other water-holding receptacles.

West Nile virus is still the primary concern in San Joaquin County. Follow mosquito bite prevention as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They recommend the use of products containing active ingredients that have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing. Of the products registered with the EPA, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. Be sure to read and follow label instructions. Wear long sleeves and long pants when practical. Remember, mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus are most active at dusk and dawn. Also, be sure your windows and door screens are in good condition. ■

For more tips and information, contact San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District at 209-982-4675, 1-800-300-4675 or at sjmosquito.org. Remember, report daytime biting mosquitoes.

Written by:
Aaron P. Devencenzi, Public Information Officer, San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District