Mosquitoes Found In Windsor-Essex Not Carrying Zika Or West Nile



Zika, which can cause birth defects and gained widespread attention in 2016 when the summer Olympics were held in Brazil, is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). Ae. aegypti was thought to have been eliminated from the state.

"Our CDC-funded research has not only allowed for the detection and molecular confirmation of the mosquito in the state, but over the a year ago we have documented the spread of the mosquito from central Mobile to all of Mobile County", Sarah Zohdy, Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Assistant Professor of Disease Ecology, said.

The study was conducted from July 2016 to September 2017.

This two-month long study collected a total of 1,074 mosquitoes.

Unlike many Ontario mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, with peaks in activity in the early morning and late afternoon.

"The good news so far is we haven't found Zika virus but finding these mosquitoes consistently is something that we are keeping a very close eye on", Ahmed said. An Asian tiger mosquito would have to bite someone with the Zika virus and then bite another person to spread it here, he said. Ae. aegypti is particularly problematic because it will also bite during the day and is very adaptive to different environments. The Centers for Disease Control website also presents extensive information on Zika and how to avoid it.

Despite the state of Alabama being an ideal habitat for mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus, very little mosquito surveillance data has been collected from around the state.

Kelly Stevens is the director of the Alabama Department of Public Health's Infectious Diseases and Outbreaks Division. The majority of cases were instances of travelers contracting the disease from affected areas. Seven cases were acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission, including two in Florida and five in Texas. Meanwhile, Zohdy's research team is now looking at all 67 Alabama counties. From this recording, the app can identify the species of mosquito and whether or not that species could potentially carry a disease by the sound of the buzzing of its wings.

Once deployed, the app can empower volunteer "citizen scientists" to participate in mosquito surveillance to help researchers increase the volume and locations of data collection. "About 30 years ago we had aegypti all over the state in high numbers", she said. She's also an entomologist who has worked in Mobile County, so she's familiar with the area's mosquito-friendly territory.

When analyzed in the laboratory, the two mosquitoes both tested negative for Zika virus and West Nile virus.

"It is very important that we have been able to collect aegypti", she said, even though it's not a complete surprise.