Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in conjunction with Four Corners Health Department recently identified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in York County. It is the first time this particular type of mosquito species has been found in the state. Aedes aegypti is common in more tropical climates where it transmits such diseases as Zika virus, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever.
Each year, the Department along with its local health department partners conducts mosquito surveillance to track and monitor the amount of West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes in Nebraska communities. Occasionally, the mosquito traps yield unexpected findings with potential public health impact.
"Aedes aegypti can carry and transmit various diseases that can have serious health consequences like Zika virus, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever, and that is of concern to public health officials," said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. "However, the transmission of these pathogens would require a person currently infected with such a disease to be bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito and then that mosquito would need to bite another uninfected person. The risk of these infections to local residents is low but also dependent on the presence or arrival of an infected individual in the area."
The Aedes aegypti bites primarily in the daytime and only feeds on people. It doesn't have the ability to fly very far, only about 500 feet.
"Four Corners Health Department is working closely with DHHS and vector-borne disease specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding control of these mosquitoes and risk reduction approaches," said Laura McDougall, Executive Director of Four Corners Health Department.
Many prevention methods that work for other types of mosquitoes also apply to the Aedes aegypti including:
- Dumping or draining any standing water around the home. Standing water and warm weather breed mosquitoes.
- Throw away containers or objects that can hold water or cover them to prevent water from accumulating inside.
- Wear mosquito repellent when you go outside. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some lemon eucalyptus, and para-menthane-diol products.
- Dress in long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when you're outside.
"This discovery underscores the importance of our mosquito trapping system," said Dr. Safranek. "Tracking and monitoring the types of mosquitoes that exist in Nebraska communities is critical, which in turn helps us identify potential public health implications and implement prevention measures to reduce risk."