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David Morgan
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Mosquitoes Capable of Transmitting Zika Virus Found in Luna County

September 11, 2017 - Zoonotic Diseases - Disease

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) announce the mosquito species Aedes aegypti has been found in Luna County, making this the first time a species of mosquito capable of transmitting Zika virus has been found there.

This does not mean Zika virus is in Luna County,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, Department of Health Veterinarian. “What it means is one of the types of mosquitos that could give you Zika virus has been found in the county.”

There are no confirmed cases of Zika virus in New Mexico in 2017. The presence of Aedes aegypti in Luna County, however, means residents traveling out of the country where Zika virus is present could be infected with the virus. If no precautions are taken by travelers when they come home, they could get bit by this specific type of mosquito and spread the virus locally.

The addition of Luna County brings the total number of counties in the state with mosquitos capable of spreading Zika to ten. There are two species of mosquitos NMDOH is monitoring in New Mexico: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been trapped and identified in Doña Ana, Eddy, Chaves, Sierra, Lea, Otero, Hidalgo, Socorro, and Luna counties and Aedes albopictus in Roosevelt County.

NMDOH has been working with NMSU for two years now to track mosquito populations in the state and map out the range and distribution in New Mexico of both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, mosquito species that are able to transmit Zika virus to people.

Residents traveling abroad should be concerned about Zika transmission - particularly women who are pregnant or trying to conceive and their sexual partners - 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 Information page.

The best way to prevent Zika, West Nile and other mosquito transmitted diseases is to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitos typically can thrive in New Mexico during the summer months, but depending on weather conditions they can hang on through October or until the first hard frost.

Certain species of mosquitos, particularly the Aedes aegypti, 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.  NMDOH recommends the following ways to avoid Zika and other mosquito-related illnesses like West Nile Virus:

  • Look around your home and remove any standing water that may be found in flower pots, bird baths, old tires, bottle caps or other small containers, and then scrub out the containers to remove any mosquito eggs. The small squiggly creatures you may see in the standing water are mosquito larvae that will turn into adult mosquitoes in a few days.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • 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.

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

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.

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Mosquitos Capaces de Transmitir el Virus Zika en el Condado de Luna