Mosquitoes commonly associated with the harmful Zika virus have been found in Downey.
Downey resident Alex Lopez was sitting in his backyard recently when he noticed that he was being aggressively bitten by mosquitoes.
“In doing a little bit of research, we found out that the only mosquitoes that bite you during the day are the aedes type of mosquitoes that you don’t want,” said Lopez. “Those are the ones that could potentially carry Zika, dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya, all those things you don’t want that come from the tropics.”
Lopez called Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control, who responded a few days later.
During an inspection of Lopez’s property, Vector Control found a couple of adult mosquitoes, but no breeding grounds. A further canvas of the neighborhood produced tubs of around 25 to 30 larvae.
Lopez says that he’s never experienced a mosquito issue like this on his property before.
“The normal mosquitoes we have in California don’t bite during the day,” said Lopez. “Getting bit during the day, it’s these things…they’re easy to recognize once you get a look at them because they’re black with white stripes.”
Fortunately, none of the specimens recovered by Vector Control were carriers of Zika or any other harmful disease; a relief in general, and probably even more so to Lopez.
“I’ve got like 15 bites, so when I spoke with Vector Control I said, ‘Is this something I need to be concerned about?,” said Lopez. “They said that the local populations so far do not show that they’re carrying any of those diseases. But they said that all it takes is somebody to travel here sick from the Caribbean or somewhere else and be bitten by one of these mosquitoes, have that mosquito breed and then we have a local outbreak…”
“They want to treat it like they do carry them, because it could change at any moment. They’re pretty aggressive when it comes to fighting these guys and getting rid of them.”
An official with Vector Control added that there is no way to predict when an outbreak will occur. However, with a mosquito population - specifically Aedes Aegypti - embedded in the area, the potential for an outbreak is present.
Currently, no vaccine exists to prevent Zika, however the disease can be prevented by taking steps to avoid mosquito bites. These steps include utilizing screens and screen doors, wearing insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, and emptying and cleaning any item or surface that may hold standing water.