As of Thursday, June 9, 2016, VDH has reported 25 cases of the Zika virus in Virginia residents to the CDC. All of these cases can be traced to recent travel in Latin America. But could this soon change? Recent studies advocate that possibility and endorse preparation.

The Aedes aegypti, commonly known as the Yellow Fever mosquito, is the sole species of mosquito currently identified as carrying and transmitting the Zika virus in the current Latin America and Caribbean epidemic. But the Ae. aegypti may not be the only offender. The aegypti’s close cousin, the Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito), is plentiful in central Virginia and was scientifically demonstrated to transmit the Zika virus in Gabon in 2007. Researchers in Singapore have been able to infect Ae. albopictus with the Zika virus in a lab. If the Asian Tiger mosquito turns out to be a competent vector in spreading Zika north, researchers anticipate more people will face disease risk.

In the May issue of Lancet Infectious Diseases, Lauren Gardner of the University of New South Wales, argues that adding Ae. albopictus as a vector will make a huge difference on how the disease spreads worldwide.

While both Aedes species are invasive (non-native) the Ae. aegypti was thought to be found only along the gulf coast in the continental U.S. That range has recently been updated by the CDC as indicated on the map below. The Asian Tiger has a much greater geographic presence. It is found as far north a Kansas, Ohio and New York. It is easy to understand how a jump between species, within the same genus, can become a significant game changer in the transmission of the Zika virus.


It is important to differentiate between a mosquito’s ability to carry a disease and actually transmit it to humans. Predation traits between the Asian Tiger and the Yellow Fever mosquito are important. It’s also worth noting that the virus replicates more slowly in the lower temperatures of northern ranges.

Where aegypti are plentiful they are in constant contact with humans because their favored harborage is in people’s homes and their meal of choice is human blood. Albopictus, on the other hand, is less aggressive and will feed from a broad menu of both domestic & wild vertebrates. It takes 7-10 days for a mosquito to become infectious. Aedes typically live only about two weeks so their window of opportunity to infect us is narrow, requiring multiple blood meals.

Unlike most native mosquito species, the Yellow Fever & Asian Tiger bite during the day, but can also bite at night increasing opportunities for contact.

Michael Reiskind of NCSU comments: “Could albopictus spread Zika? Absolutely,” “Will it?” That’s the question for Virginians. Stay tuned.

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Did you know that dogs, as well as other animals are susceptible to Lyme disease? Lyme disease is transmitted by the black-legged (deer) tick and is prevalent in the Northeast, Southeast and upper Midwest. Infection typically occurs after the bacteria carrying tick has been attached for 2-3 days.

While many dogs may not show obvious signs (5-10% show symptoms) of this bacterial disease, there are several common symptoms. The most prevalent is arthritis and lameness due to joint inflammation. Sometimes the lameness lasts only a few days but may recur days to weeks later, either in the same leg or other legs. 

Additional symptoms your dog might experience are fever, depression, loss of appetite, sensitivity to touch and loss of energy. They may vary in severity and emulate other conditions. Puppies are more likely to display symptoms than adults and appear to be more susceptible.

Lyme disease in dogs may become quite serious if left untreated. More severe complications include heart disease, nervous system disorders and even fatal kidney disease. 

Diagnosis in dogs is much as it is in humans. You will need to provide your veterinarian with a background of symptoms and any tick exposure that might have triggered them. Physical symptoms may be confirmed with a blood test. Blood tests are only reliably positive later in the disease. Early in the disease the blood test may be negative.

Prevention is the best way to manage Lyme disease. If your dog spends time outdoors, in areas with infected ticks, it is vital that you check your dog's skin daily and remove ticks by hand. Your veterinarian can also suggest sprays, collars and topical products that will either kill or repel ticks. Lyme vaccinations are available. Speak to your veterinarian to see if this is an option for your pet.

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The Zika virus has been designated a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus, which is linked to brain damage in babies and Guillain-Barre Syndrome in adults, was first identified more than 60 years ago but cases have been increasing at an alarming rate. The WHO has warned that the Zika virus could infect four million people by the end of 2016.

In the United States, there have been only a few cases of Zika reported (including Virginia). The vast majority of cases are travel related but it has recently been discovered that Zika can be transmitted via all body fluids. The National Health Service (NHS) has placed a ban on blood donations from anyone who has traveled to Zika infected regions. They insist that travelers wait no less than 28 days after their return, to see if they have the disease.

What is the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease (arbovirus) named after the Zika Forest in Uganda, where it was first discovered. The virus, which is transmitted primarily by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito has now been detected in more than two dozen countries. Reports are monitored and updated daily.

About the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito

The Aedes Aegypti is the single species of mosquito identified that transmits the Zika virus. In addition to the Zika virus, the Aedes Aegypti is also the vector for Dengue, Yellow Fever and Chikungunya. The good news is that no live specimen of A. Aegypti have ever been found in Virginia. Virginia is considered a future region at risk based on the optimal climatic and environmental conditions for the species to thrive. This is based mainly on rainfall, the temperatures the mosquitoes prefer and the urban environments where they usually breed.

Who Should Be Concerned?

Outside of pregnant women, the virus is not currently considered dangerous. Only about one in five people effected will show symptoms which include fever, muscle and joint pain, rash and fatigue. Symptoms usually appear within 3 – 12 days after contracting the disease and can last from a couple days to a week.

Risk for Pregnant Women

Increasing and prominent evidence shows a strong link between being infected by the Zika virus during pregnancy and microcephaly, a neurological condition where the brain and cranium is significantly smaller (and/or deformed). The fact is, not a lot is known about the virus, because the symptoms are usually mild. Doctors do not know when during pregnancy the mother and fetus is at the highest risk or if the effect comes even before conception. Pregnant women have been advised to avoid countries where the Zika virus has been reported.

Is there a Treatment?

There is currently no cure, treatment or vaccine for the disease. In most cases, the symptoms are so mild that simple bedrest, fluids and pain relievers are adequate. If you suspect you might have the Zika virus, seek medical assistance immediately.

How to Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself from mosquito borne diseases is by avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes all together. Here are some tips for avoiding mosquito bites:

-Apply insect repellent and reapply as directed.

-Avoid the use of scented skin care products.

-Remove sources of standing water, which can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

-Wear long-sleeved shirts and light-colored clothing.

If you would like to learn more about minimizing the nuisance of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas at your home CLICK HERE for a no obligation price quote from MosquitoXpress.

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Ticks are the second largest disease vector in the world behind mosquitoes making tick-borne diseases a major public health problem.

A new Lyme disease causing bacteria in the United States has been identified by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, and it may cause even worse symptoms. Their finding were released in The Lancet Infectious Disease Journal.

Until this discovery, Borrelia burgdorferi, was the only bacteria believed to cause Lyme disease in North America. Borrelia mayonii, the newly identified bacteria appears closely related to B. burgdorferi according to a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date it has been only identified in the upper Midwest.

The illness caused by the new bacteria is similar, but preliminary findings indicate several differences. While both strains of Lyme disease cause fever, rash, headache, and neck pain within days of infection the new bacteria causes nausea and vomiting as well. Additionally, B. mayonii produces diffuse rashes rather than the more common “bull’s-eye” rash, and a higher concentration of bacteria in the blood.

Tick-borne diseases can typically be prevented by avoiding places where ticks live, such as heavily wooded and brushy areas. Wearing long pants and socks, performing tick checks, using insect repellents containing DEET (30% is recommended) for the skin and permethrin for clothing, and promptly removing ticks will help prevent infection.

Both bacteria are transmitted through the bite of the deer tick which is indigenous to Virginia.

If you would like to learn more about minimizing the nuisance of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas at your home CLICK HERE for a no obligation price quote from MosquitoXpress.

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