Navy and county health officials are hunting for an unusual type of mosquito known to cause several serious illnesses, including the potentially life-threatening dengue fever.
The discovery of four “yellow fever” mosquitoes — their formal name is Aedes aegypti — at Naval Base San Diego offices over the past two weeks prompted county vector control officials to start hunting them by putting up traps on and around the naval base.
Officials also urged the public to report any mosquito bites that are received indoors during daytime hours because the insect in question feeds during the day, unlike the region’s common varieties. Reports can be made by calling (858) 694-2888.
“We’re urging people to look for, and to eliminate or report any standing water that could be breeding grounds for mosquitoes, outside their homes, but also inside their homes because these small mosquitoes like to breed inside too,” said Elizabeth Pozzebon, the city’s director of environmental health.
The mosquito in question, typically found in the eastern United States, is black with white stripes and differs from California mosquitoes in that it feeds during the day, rather than mostly at dusk and dawn.
The mosquito can carry dengue fever, a viral disease that afflicted about a dozen people in San Diego County last year. Also known as breakbone fever, dengue fever causes headaches, muscle and join pains, and a skin rash similar to one caused by measles. In rare cases, it can cause bleeding, low blood platelet levels and low blood pressure, threatening the life of the infected person.
Chikungunya, a virus that causes joint pain and can persist for years, and yellow fever are other diseases carried by the insect.
According to the Department of Environmental Health, yellow fever is largely confined to tropical areas of Africa and Latin America. No outbreaks in the U.S. have been reported in more than 100 years.
Los Angeles County vector control officials also announced recently that they found yellow fever mosquitoes in Commerce and Pico Rivera.
The mosquito likes urban areas and breed in containers, inside and outside of people’s homes — in almost anything that can contain water — from flowerpots, saucers and cups, to spare tires, rain gutters, untreated swimming pools and drainage ditches.
— City News Service
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