Species of Mosquito that Transmit the Zika Virus Making Increased Appearance in LA

16:41 May 19, 2016
By: Noah Stokes-Raab

It’s no real secret that Louisiana is riddled with mosquitos.  Especially in the hot, humid summer months, these pesky insects can be found everywhere, and although they generally don’t serve a huge threat, they are a huge nuisance as a whole. 

Louisiana, and more specifically, New Orleans, has been controlling its mosquito population for a long time (over 50 years) and they have quite a respectable budget to work with.  Without this commitment to mosquito population control, New Orleans would be running completely rampant with the pests.  The New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board does a very good job at monitoring and controlling the mosquito population, as well as the diseases that they could potentially carry.

Cases of the Zika virus have recently been popping up in Brazil, and the New Orleans Control Board has been proactively taking measures to ensure that it doesn’t create an outbreak in New Orleans.  The Zika virus itself is not especially harmful; the symptoms mostly just include things like fever, rash, red eyes and joint pain.  However, in Brazil, when the fetuses of pregnant women began showing cases of abnormal brain growth, it was definitively linked to the virus.  This caused more alarm, as it is much more severe than a simple fever or rash.

The Zika virus can only be transmitted by the species of mosquito called the aedes aegypti.  This particular mosquito has been being found again in New Orleans for the first time in many years.  New Orleans is home to a vast number of different species of mosquito, due to the climate, but the aedes aegypti is generally not one of them, so this is a cause for some concern.

Very few cases of the Zika virus infecting people in Louisiana have occurred so far since their arrival, and the people infected have since recovered with no serious health issues.  However, since mosquitos that are carrying diseases can spread the diseases very easily, the fact that anyone at all (one person in the city of New Orleans) has been infected recently shows us that the possibility for the virus to begin spreading is a very real one.

Louisianans have been told to follow certain safety measures and routines that will decrease the likelihood of these specific mosquitos breeding.  They’ve been told to follow measures that essentially get rid of the habitat that this species thrives in, which is essentially any small container filled with water.  The aedes aegypti lay their eggs in water that’s been stagnant for about a week and making sure that containers filled with water are emptied and cleaned every couple days is a very easy way to ensure that they don’t breed in abundance.   

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