What mosquitoes are capable of transmitting Zika virus?
Zika fever, caused by the Zika virus, has been detected in every country in North and South America with the exception of Chile and Canada. The symptoms of the illness include fatigue, joint and back pain, fever, skin rash, headache and eye redness. Most people infected with Zika fever show no symptoms. Most alarming is the association between Zika infection in pregnant women and a certain birth defect in infants called microcephaly, or reduced head size due to incomplete brain development. Microcephaly can result in a range of problems in children including developmental delays and intellectual disabilities. It’s important to remember that mosquitoes are not the cause of Zika fever. Instead, certain mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the virus that causes the disease. Zika transmission is most commonly associated with the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), but the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is also believed to be a competent vector of the virus. Both of these mosquitoes are present in the United States and the Caribbean and are aggressive daytime biters. The distribution of the yellow fever mosquito is restricted to tropical and subtropical climates. In the United States, it is primarily found in the Southeast and Gulf states with pockets in the Southwest and California.
The Asian tiger mosquito, on the other hand, is better adapted to cooler climates and has a much wider distribution, ranging into coastal regions of the southern New England states and into the Midwest, Southwest and California. Both species are commonly associated with structures, specializing in breeding in man-made containers with very little water present (Asian tiger mosquito larvae have been observed developing in containers as small as bottle caps). In addition to residual treatment of adult mosquito resting sites, any potential breeding sites on a client’s property should be identified and eliminated; including clogged roof gutters and drainpipes leading from downspouts.