Over the past week California residents were greeted by headlines that caused worry and confusion. News articles and vector control agencies are warning residents that the mosquito that carries Yellow Fever and Dengue, know as the Aedes aegypti, has been found in California. While the mosquitoes that have been trapped in California haven’t tested positive for the diseases as of yet, this is still big news. First of all, we haven’t seen incidence of Yellow Fever in the United States since the early 1900s; its prominence is in South America and Africa, so the idea of any expansion into the U.S. is a concerning one. As for Dengue, unfortunately these headlines aren’t the first we’ve seen of the mosquito-borne illness this year. Residents in Florida and Texas have been battling mosquitoes actually carrying Dengue (and the disease itself) since July. If an infected person is bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, its bite continues to transmit the disease to others.
The Aedes aegypti is a dark mosquito with white markings and banded legs, pictured above. The big problem with these mosquitoes is that they don’t have prime feeding times like a typical mosquito (dusk and dawn). They bite all day, and they will readily come inside homes. The craziest fact? They only need a teaspoon of water to lay eggs! So, if you live in an area the mosquito has been found, it is imperative to monitor standing water in your yard. And if you think you’ve been infected with either disease, always see your doctor. While both viruses tend to be mild, the severe cases can be deadly.
According to the CDC, symptoms of Dengue are high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding. There is no specific medication for the virus but it can be treated with over the counter painkillers and fever reducers. This is also true for Yellow Fever, in which symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, back pain, general body aches, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness.
It is important to note that no cases of Yellow Fever have been reported in the U.S. at this time, just the mosquito that carries the disease.
Headlines like these remind us that mosquito-borne illness is not something to take lightly. If you start to see news about threats like this in your area, please take all necessary precautions to keep your yard mosquito-free. The best defense is to call a vector control professional like Mosquito Joe to protect your home, but there are also plenty of key tips to keeping your yard from becoming a mosquito sanctuary.
Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine