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Home News Mosquitoes Capable of Transmitting Zika Virus Found in Doña Ana County
Paul Rhien
505-470-2290 Office

Mosquitoes Capable of Transmitting Zika Virus Found in Doña Ana County

May 18, 2017 - Zoonotic Diseases - Alert

Best Way to Prevent Zika Virus is to Prevent Mosquito Bites

Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) announce today that Aedes aegypti, a species of mosquito that can transmit Zika virus, has been identified in Doña Ana County. This is the first time this season, and the second consecutive year, the mosquito species has been found in this part of the state.

Mosquito surveillance in New Mexico’s southern counties is part of a joint project to map out the range and distribution of both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito species in New Mexico. The ongoing project started last summer and will continue through the 2017 mosquito season. Last year, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were found in Doña Ana, Eddy, Sierra, Lea, and Chaves counties and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes were found in Roosevelt County.

Zika virus can be transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

“We’ve been fortunate to this point that we have not had local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus in New Mexico. The greatest risk comes to those traveling to countries with active Zika virus transmission,” said Lynn Gallagher, New Mexico Department of Health Cabinet Secretary. “Returning travelers infected with Zika virus while abroad can spread the virus to other people through mosquito bites.”

Ten cases of Zika virus disease were reported in New Mexico in 2016. In each case, travelers were infected abroad and diagnosed after they returned home. Residents traveling abroad this summer should be concerned about Zika transmission, particularly women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, as Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a list of countries with active Zika virus transmission on their Zika Virus Travel Information page.

Regardless of whether you are traveling abroad, the best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitos typically lay eggs in and near standing water in containers like old tires, buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. Certain species of mosquitos, particularly the Aedes albopictus, prefer to bite people, so they tend to live indoors and outdoors near people. They are aggressive daytime biters, but they can also bite at night.

“Last year, the monsoon rains didn’t come until late July and August so populations of these mosquitoes didn’t really start to appear until after the rains started,” said NMDOH Veterinarian Dr. Paul Ettestad. “With early rainfall and warm temperatures this year, the mosquitoes are out sooner, so precautions to avoid mosquito bites and to decrease mosquito breeding habitat, especially small containers with standing water in them around the home, should be started now.”

To avoid Zika and other viruses spread by mosquitos, like West Nile Virus, NMDOH recommends the following prevention measures:

  • Look around your home and remove any standing water that may be found in small containers and then scrub out the containers to remove any mosquito eggs. The small squiggly creatures found in standing water are mosquito larvae that will turn into adult mosquitoes in a few days.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for children and pregnant or breast-feeding women.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

For more information about Zika virus, visit the Zika Virus section of our website and the Zika Virus Information page.

Media Contact

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Mosquitos capaces de transmitir el virus Zika en el condado de Doña Ana