H-HEALTH NEWS

Oct 21, 2013 9:49 PM by Victoria Johnson

Yellow fever mosquito found in California


A mosquito that can carry deadly diseases like yellow fever and dengue has been found in California. Over the summer, it was found in Madera and San Mateo counties. This week it showed up in Fresno.

It's a concern for health officials around the state because of the mosquito's potential to spread disease. There haven't been any reported cases of those diseases. So far, there haven't been any sightings of the mosquito on the Central Coast.

The Aedes aegypti is a white polka dotted mosquito that bites a few hours before dawn and dusk. It can spread yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya viruses and other diseases.

"It likes humans. Humans are one of its favorite targets," said Curtis Batson, Environmental Health Director for San Luis Obispo County.

They aren't common to the area and are typically found in warmer, tropical climates. It's unknown how the mosquito got to California.

"My guess is that it has to do with the warming climate. The weather conditions for these mosquitos to breed and propagate are becoming more prevalent," said Batson.

Laguna Lake has been a hot spot for mosquitos. Still or stagnant water near reeds makes it easy for them to breed. Even water bowls for pets can be a breeding ground.

The most common mosquito-borne disease found in this county is West Nile.
Yellow fever and dengue have not been present in this area in a while.

"Back in the 1900's, they were common. Now, we have much better control of flood and stagnant water areas," said Batson.

To protect yourself from bites, avoid activity around dawn or dusk, eliminate stagnant water around your property, use repellant containing DEET and wear long sleeved shirts and pants.

Santa Barbara County has a program to control mosquitoes. San Luis Obispo County doesn't. A few years ago, San Luis Obispo County voters said no to such a program. Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, chills and nausea. Dengue causes head and muscle aches and a rash similar to measles. Both can be deadly.

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