Mosquito that can carry Zika virus found near Hemet: First West Nile case in county this year

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Zika virus

The invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can harbor and transmit the dangerous Zika virus, has been detected near the Hemet outskirts, according to Riverside County vector control officials, who announced this Wednesday, Aug. 17.

A single mosquito was caught in a vector-control trap near Yale Street and Johnston Avenue in the Hemet’s unincorporated area two days earlier, Monday, Aug. 15. The mosquito has been found in several county locations in the past year, but this is the closest to Idyllwild.

Two cases of Zika victims have been confirmed in the county; however, both individuals contracted the disease while traveling outside of California.

Non-native to California, Aedes aegypti is a black-and-white, day-biting mosquito that prefers to feed on humans. It has the potential to spread the Zika virus, Chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue.

While these viruses are not currently transmitted in California, there is a potential for them to be introduced into the state through infected international travelers.

Unlike native California mosquitoes, this mosquito lays its eggs just above the water surface in containers such as flower pots, pet bowls, discarded tires and bird baths. It is capable of breeding in as little as a bottle cap of water. Eggs can survive on surfaces even after water has been drained. Therefore, residents should not only drain any outside standing water, but then scrub the items that contained water.

The county’s vector control staff will continue seeking the mosquito in areas surrounding the point of discovery. That effort will include door-to-door inspections of residential and commercial properties.

West Nile virus

In other county health news, the first confirmed case of West Nile virus was announced Friday, Aug. 19.

“A 73-year-old woman who lives in western Riverside County is the first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in the county this year,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county public health officer, said in a press release.

Tests confirmed the infection, but after hospitalization, the woman has been released and is expected to recover, the press release added.

This virus also is transmitted through mosquito bites, but by a different mosquito species than the one that transmits Zika.

Health officials emphasized that the risk of serious illness to humans is low. Most infected individuals will not experience any illness. Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for serious illness.

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