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Mosquitoes in Southern Arizona can carry Zika

Posted at 10:54 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 14:28:34-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Centers for Disease Control announced Wednesday that the Zika virus causes birth defects in children born to a woman who was infected.

There has been one reported case of Zika in Arizona, a woman contracted the virus abroad and came back to Maricopa County with the virus. There have been no other reported cases.

While there has only been one Zika case in the state, we do have the mosquito that can carry it known as Aedes aegypti.

Nicholas Ramirez is an environmental health supervisor with the Pima County Department of Consumer Health of Food Safety. He says the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the only one in Arizona that can transmit the virus. It is different from many of the other species in Arizona because it bites all year round, also it bites during the day rather than evenings and mornings.

County vector control monitors mosquitoes throughout the year. They use traps to check on mosquito populations and identify which species are present.

"We're actually trying to find it's migration pattern to see if it's coming from the south, in Mexico, and why we're getting so many Aedes aegypti here," said Ramirez.

He says so far this year mosquito complaints have been increasing, but we are only in the beginning of the mosquito season. They expect more complaints as we move through the summer.

While Zika seems to be the talk of the town, Ramirez says it may cause us to overlook something we already have in Arizona, West Nile Virus.

"Everyone has seen the pictures of what Zika can do, but basically per capita Pima County had the highest per capita of West Nile," he said.

To keep mosquitoes from around your home, try and remove any standing water that could create a breeding ground for them. If it is something like a bird bath, empty the water, wipe it dry, then fill it back up. They only need a small amount of water, enough to fill a bottle cap. While outside, try wearing long sleeves and use bug spray.