Chris Cauhapé |Staff Writer|
Worldwide, “nearly 7,000,000 people get a mosquito borne illness each year resulting in greater than 1,000,000 deaths,” according to Oxitec.
There are two species of mosquito that spread Zika Fever.
In order to spread the virus, they must first bite an infected human and transmit it to another with a subsequent bite.
These two mosquito species, Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus, are ominously known as the Yellow Fever and the Asian Tiger mosquito. They are black with white stripes—hence “tiger.”
Not only do they spread yellow fever, they are also responsible for the spread of the chikungunya virus, dengue, Eastern equine encephalitis and the West Nile viruses.
They are termed an “invasive” species, because they are indigenous to the tropics and not native to California.
So far Riverside County has been spared the presence of these mosquitoes.
These mosquitoes have been detected in San Bernardino County, and every other county that borders with Riverside County.
“Tests are conducted daily for these two insects and, so far, we have found none,” said Bobbye Dieckmann, a field supervisor for the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, who monitors mosquito populations in the area.
These two species lay eggs in very small amounts of water. Just a few drops may be enough for the eggs to develop.
Discarded tires and drinking water bottles make perfect nurseries for the larvae.
If a tiny incubation puddle goes dry, eggs may remain viable for months, according to the just-updated guide for invasive Aedes mosquitoes, published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Unlike most mosquitoe species, Aedes bite in daylight.
Most people infected with Zika virus experience no symptoms. Some are afflicted with fever, rash, red eyes and joint pain within three to seven days after the mosquito bites, according to the CDC.
Pregnant women infected with the virus have given birth to babies with abnormal head and brain sizes. This is a condition called microencephaly.
Zika virus sufferers are sometimes prone to Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), which affects the nervous system.
“Whether the Zika virus causes microencephaly or GBS is still not clear and awaits further studies,” states the CDPH on the Zika page of its website.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that the Zika virus is now considered a sexually transmitted disease.
The CDC now advises condom use for any vaginal, oral or anal sex when an infected partner is involved.
The CDC has also advised pregnant women not to visit certain affected countries.
Although Zika has been found in practically all the Western Hemisphere countries, Brazil has been the prime focus of concern. Its government has confirmed 224 cases of microencephaly since May 2015.
The 2016 Olympic Games are to be hosted by Brazil in August, which gives great urgency to resolve the problem.
Brazil has been releasing 800,000 genetically modified male Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes every week in the city of Piracicaba.
The genetic modification causes offspring to die in the larval stage of development.
Aedes Aegypti population has dropped by 82 percent since the weekly release of the modified insects began in April of 2015.
Countless numbers of lives have most likely been saved by this method already. Regardless, it’s imperative to take preventative measures to protect yourself from the virus.