Potentially dangerous mosquitoes detected in Coachella Valley

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Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can carry the Zika virus, has been found in the Coachella Valley. But the Zika virus has not been detected in Riverside County.

While some county residents may have had Zika, they contacted the virus outside the United States. As of May 13, the state’s Department of Public Health has identified 46 Zika cases in California, all of which were contracted while the victim was traveling outside California. Nine of these involved pregnant women. None of the cases have involved Riverside County residents.

On May 9, laboratory staff for the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District detected the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Coachella near the intersection of Calle Camacho and Calle Rojo.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito has the potential to transmit deadly viruses, including dengue, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever, viruses not currently transmitted in California by mosquitoes. While the mosquito is not native to California, it has been found in dozens of communities in California over the last few years, including Riverside, San Jacinto, Imperial, El Centro, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, according to a press release from CVMVCD.

The district has been investigating more than 200 homes for the presence of the aedes aegypti mosquito and has captured several hundred. Its presence also was found at a second site in Indio.

While doing this work, the CVMVCD found mosquitoes thath were positive for the West Nile virus.

The district plans to investigate further, to evaluate the size of the infestation, to “target problem areas to prevent the spread of these mosquitoes,” according to CVMVCD.

To reduce the area attractive to breeding mosquitoes, CVMVCD recommends limiting the amount of standing water near your house, and other actions:

• Inspect yards for standing water sources and drain water that may have collected under potted plants, in bird baths, in discarded tires and in any other items that could collect water.

• Check your rain gutters and lawn drains to make sure they aren’t holding water and debris.

• Clean and scrub bird baths and pet watering dishes weekly.

The symptoms of Zika are fever, joint pain, rash, red eyes and muscle pain. These begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. For most people, illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week. Some infected people have no symptoms at all.

While there is concern about how the Zika virus may affect and damage a fetus, the research is not definitive. According to the federal Centers For Disease Control, “… In a recent article, CDC scientists announced that there is now enough evidence to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth. Scientists are studying the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause.”

Pregnant women should avoid travel to Zika-known areas and if traveling there, try to avoid mosquito bites. These areas are identified on the CDC website, wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

The U.S. Senate voted on a $1 billion funding bill to help fight the spread of the Zika virus. House Republicans expressed a desire also to provide funding for these initiatives, but cannot agree on how to fund the package.

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