A group of exotic mosquitoes known to carry dengue and yellow fever have been discovered in California.
Health officials haven’t found any specimens of the mosquito, named Aedes aegypti, carrying the disease and officials have not received any reports of yellow fever yet. Still, Steve Mulligan, director of the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District, said that the tropical mosquito is known to be aggressive and could prove to be a nuisance for Californians.
Mulligan said: “This mosquito bites during the day. It’s an aggressive mosquito and that in itself – the nuisance aspect – is going to be huge for people in our areas… It could bring about an impact in our lifestyle. We like to be outdoors in summertime and enjoy our backyards.”
Tim Phillips, manager of the Fresno Mosquito and Vector Control District, said that the Aedes aegypti multiplies in great numbers and could soon change the way people live in California.
Phillips said: “If it gets established, it’s going to change the way we live in California… We’re not going to be able to go out on the patio and have a beer or have a barbecue without being eaten up by these things.”
The mosquito is normally found in subtropical regions but it is slowly making its way north. According to Reuters, the invasive species has been found in Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Florida and now California.
Vicki Kramer, chief of vector-borne diseases for the state Department of Public Health, said that she hopes the species is wiped out after a cold winter.
Kramer said: “We’re hoping to eradicate this species, but that will be challenging, and we’re certainly interested in whether it can survive the winter months in California.”
In addition to being a summer nuisance, there is also the possibility that the mosquito could bring yellow fever to California. The Huffington Post notes that the chances of this are extremely low at the moment since the mosquito would have to bite an infected person in order to infect other people. The last known case of yellow fever in California was in 1999.