SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—Santa Cruz County officials this week announced that they have found in Watsonville a species of mosquito known to carry the diseases dengue, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever.
Those diseases are not currently found in California, and none of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—found near East Lake Avenue and Holohan Road—have carried them.
This is the first time the species has been found in the county, and officials are evaluating the extent of the infestation and have plans to “aggressively target problem areas” to prevent its spread, the County stated in a press release.
Although these viruses are not currently found in California, Aedes aegypti has the potential to transmit dengue, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever.
Aedes aegypti is common in some urban areas of the southeastern United States and Arizona. They have been found in Contra Costa, Sacramento and Merced counties. It is considered an aggressive mosquito that will readily bite at any time of the day.
They are small—about one-quarter inch—and black and white.
“Our goal is to control and eliminate this mosquito population,” Vector Control Manager Amanda Poulsen said. “We are doing everything to help ensure this mosquito does not become established in our communities.”
The agency has expanded its surveillance efforts, and deployed a variety of traps for adult mosquitoes and mosquito eggs in the area where Aedes aegypti was found.
The County’s message to the public is that everyone can have a hand in keeping mosquito populations at bay by reducing or eliminating standing water, since even a small amount can harbor eggs. This includes dishes under potted plants, in addition to bird baths and feeders.
“It’s important for residents to look around their property and dump out even the smallest amount of standing water,” the County stated.
Residents can protect themselves by using repellents with ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.
They can also wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when mosquitoes are most active.
Residents experiencing mosquito bites during the day should report them immediately to Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control at agdept.com or 454.2590.