A type of mosquito that is known to spread diseases such as Zika virus, yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya has been found in a Nebraska county, health inspectors announced this week.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Four Corners Health Department said in a statement Tuesday that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been identified in York County. The discovery marks the first time these mosquitoes – usually found in tropical climates – have been located in the state.
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mosquitoes were found under routine mosquito monitoring, which is carried out to assess the state of the berries in the state. But sometimes "the mosquito traps produce unexpected results with potential public health effects," officials said in the news release.
Although Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are known to spread Zika virus and other diseases, "the transmission of these pathogens would require a person currently infected with such a disease to bite an Aedes aegyptian mosquito and then to the mosquito would need to bite another uninfected person, "Dr. Tom Safranek, a DHHS state epidemiologist, said in a statement.
This means that the risk of infection is low and "also depends on the presence or arrival of an infected person in the area," he said.
"This discovery underscores the importance of our mosquito trapping system," Safranek added. "Tracking and monitoring the types of mosquitoes found in Nebraska communities is crucial, which in turn helps us identify potential public health consequences and take preventive measures to reduce the risk. "
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Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which usually bite people during the day, can only fly about 500 meters at a distance, health officials say. Although it is currently unclear how they arrived in the state, Safranek told Live Well Nebraska that the insects may have come as eggs, possibly in used tires.
The best way to prevent mosquito borne diseases is by draining standing water – such as in bird baths, buckets or pool covers – because stagnant water can act as a breeding ground for these insects. Other preventative measures include covering skin with long-sleeved pants and shirts outside and with proper use of insecticides containing DEET.