Yellow Fever, Zika mosquitoes found in Merced County, officials say

A foreign mosquito capable of transmitting several fatal human diseases has been found in Los Banos, according to the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District.

The invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, known as the “yellow fever mosquito,” was discovered Tuesday morning in a residential area in the 93635 area code of the City of Los Banos, according to the district. It’s the second location detected in Merced County following the discovery of the mosquito last year in the City of Merced.

The mosquito, which has been detected in 13 other California counties, is capable of transmitting diseases such as yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and Zika, according to a news release.

The extent of the infestation is being evaluated by the district, the release states. Door-to-door inspections are planned for residential properties to determine where there may be standing water where the mosquitoes can breed.

The district also plans to increase trapping, eliminating breeding sources, larva control and “ultra-low volume adulticiding (fogging) as necessary to target the invasive mosquitoes,” the release states.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito generally lives and breeds in urban residential areas, said Rhiannon Jones, general manager of the district.

“Having Aedes aegypti in our District is very concerning as it is an efficient vector in spreading (diseases),” Jones said, noting the mosquitoes like to breed in standing water or potted plants outside and inside homes.

The threat comes if someone travels overseas and brings back one of the diseases, Jones said. The mosquito can transmit that disease to others in populated areas, spreading the disease.

According to the release, the mosquito is about one-fourth-inch long, colored black and white and bite humans during the day. It lays eggs just above a water surface in small objects like flower pots, plant saucers, pet bowls and bird baths.

These are steps the district is urging residents take:

  • Drain standing water
  • Defend against mosquitos using repellants with DEET, Picardin, IR3535 or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Avoid the outdoors when mosquitos are mostly present, usually dawn and dusk
  • Report neglected swimming pools to the district by calling 209-722-1527, anonymous calls are accepted.