Windsor-Essex Health officials have discovered a species of mosquito capable of transmitting the Zika virus to humans in a local mosquito trap, but say there’s no present health risk.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Gary Kirk revealed that the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is capable of transmitting viruses including Zika. However, he went on to say that it is not the species that is responsible for the majority of human cases of Zika virus infection in the Caribbean, South America and Florida.
Four Aedes albopictus mosquitoes were discovered last month in local traps during “routine monitoring and surveillance” for the West Nile virus, but all tested negative for Zika.
It’s not immediately known how the mosquito’s arrived in Ontario, however, it’s believed the adult mosquitoes were transported from the U.S. in shipping containers or other cross-border vehicle traffic. Extremely hot summer temperatures likely allowed for the species to exist in Windsor, since the Asian tiger is tropical species.
Some northern US cities, like Chicago, have seen instances of Aedes albopictus during hot summers but cold winters have killed them off.
“Ensuring that our community stays informed about infectious diseases and the local mosquito surveillance program is a key role of public health to the residents of Windsor-Essex County. The discovery of the Asian tiger mosquitoes in a local trap is an important reminder to everyone that we should continue to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Kirk.
Aedes albopictus feed on humans but also animals, a habit which makes it less likely for them to spread the virus to humans. For Zika virus transmission to occur, the Aedes albopictus mosquito would need to feed on an infected person then feed upon another susceptible person.
Aedes albopictus mosquitos found in the area. The species has potential to transmit viruses to humans. All tested Negative for #Zika virus
— WEC Health Unit (@TheWECHU) October 6, 2016