Yellow-fever mosquito found in Fresno, Madera counties

The Fresno BeeJune 20, 2013 

A type of mosquito that can spread dengue and yellow fever, potentially serious tropical diseases that are rarely seen in California, has been found for the first time in both Fresno and Madera counties, officials said.

Officials are unsure how the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes got to west Madera and east Clovis, but they are now trying to eradicate them. So far, none of the mosquitoes has been found to carry either disease.

Still, "we are definitely concerned and it is scary for us," said Tim Phillips, manager of the Fresno Mosquito and Vector Control District. "It's going to change the way we live in California if it gets away from us."

The mosquito first turned up in several neighborhoods in Madera earlier this month, said Leonard Irby, manager of the Madera County Mosquito and Vector Control District. Saturday through Monday, officials sprayed a mosquito-killing fog in those neighborhoods, but afterward more mosquitoes were found in traps.

A second round of "fogging" will start today and officials plan to go door to door starting Monday to look for breeding sources and educate residents.

On Thursday, the mosquitoes turned up in traps in Clovis, northwest of Shaw and Temperance avenues, officials said. More traps will be set to determine the spread of the mosquitoes while officials determine an eradication program, said Steve Mulligan, manager of the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District, which covers most of Clovis.

Unlike the mosquito that carries West Nile virus, which typically attacks at dawn and dusk, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is an aggressive "day-biter."

More worrisome, the mosquito is an effective carrier of dengue and yellow fever, tropical diseases whose symptoms include fever, severe headaches and body aches. In severe cases, both can cause more serious symptoms that can lead to death.

The mosquito can lay eggs in any open container with water in it and officials said only with the public's help can the spread be contained.

The public can contact their local mosquito-control district if they are bitten by a mosquito during the day.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6279 or jrayburn@fresnobee.com.

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