YELLOW FEVER MOSQUITOES FOUND IN COUNTY

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October 29, 2014 (San Diego)—For the first time, a new invasive mosquito that carries yellow fever has been found in San Diego County.  These mosquitoes feed in daylight hours and can transmit several diseases.

County Environmental Health officials are urging the public to eliminate and report any standing water that could be breeding grounds for these mosquitos – not only outdoors, but also inside homes because these mosquitoes can breed indoors.  

Military entomologists at Naval Base San Diego discovered four Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, otherwise known as “yellow fever mosquitoes,” in the last couple of weeks in offices at the base on San Diego Bay.

Navy and County vector control teams are working together to put up traps on and around the base to determine if there are more of these mosquitoes, which have also recently been found in Los Angeles County.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is small and black with white stripes. It differs from native California mosquitoes in that it is known as an aggressive pest. Residents are urged to report to the County if mosquitoes are biting during daylight hours.

The yellow fever mosquito has commonly been found on the East Coast. However, it started showing up in a few California counties in 2013. Officials want to keep it out of the state because it can spread dangerous diseases, including yellow fever, chikungunya and dengue fever, which are currently rare here.

Yellow fever, once known as “yellow jack” and “yellow plague,” is largely contained to tropical areas of Africa and Latin American, and there hasn't been an outbreak in the United States in more than 100 years.

Chikungunya is a viral disease that has historically been kept to Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, it has been spreading in recent years. This year, two travelers brought it home to San Diego County and in Florida, more than 100 cases — including the first two locally acquired cases in U.S. history — have been reported according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Chikungunya is spread by infected mosquitoes and symptoms include fever and severe joint pain, often in the hands and feet, and can include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and rash. The disease is rarely fatal, but there is no vaccine or medication for it.

Dengue fever is still rare, but has been seen here on a yearly basis. San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services statistics report that a dozen people in San Diego County got sick from dengue fever in  the past two years after contracting the disease while visiting other countries.

Dengue disease, and the more severe dengue hemorragic fever, are caused by any of four related viruses  carried by the Yellow fever mosquito. Dengue hemorrhagic fever can be fatal and there is no vaccine or cure. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash and mild bleeding.

Prevent mosquito breeding by getting rid of items that can hold standing water, such as plant saucers, toys and old tires, and dumping out rain gutters.  You can get free mosquito fish from the  County that will eat mosquitoes in swimming pools, ponds, fountains and horse troughs.

Protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 when outside. Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition and secured to keep insects out.

Report green swimming pools or other standing water sources to the  County Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 or vector@sdcounty.ca.gov. You can also anonymously report neglected pools by downloading the County’s “Fight the Bite” phone app.

For more information about County Vector Control, go to the program’s website