Asian tiger mosquitoes identified in Wayne County for a second year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 29, 2018

MDHHS CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112
WCHD CONTACT: Lisa Croff, 313-967-6618 or 313-657-8630

LANSING, Mich. – The invasive Asian tiger mosquito has been identified in Wayne County again this year, officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Wayne County Health Department announced today. Last August, the presence of the mosquito was reported in an industrial area of Livonia. On Aug. 16, the presence of the mosquito was confirmed in an industrial area in southern Romulus.

While the Aedes albopictus species – commonly known as the Asian tiger mosquito – is capable of spreading the Zika virus and other viruses, officials emphasized there is no evidence of Zika or other exotic virus-infected mosquitoes in Michigan or the United States this year.

“Finding Asian tiger mosquitoes in Michigan is no reason for great concern. Many of our neighboring states have found them previously, and have not seen Zika transmission from this species,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “However, it is always a good idea to take precautions against mosquito bites, since other mosquito species can carry diseases like West Nile virus.”

This species of mosquito can live in areas with a tropical to temperate climate, but has been extending its known range in the U.S. They are considered established in many mid-western states including Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Occasionally, the mosquitoes will travel in commercial products shipped from states where they are currently established. This is likely how the mosquitoes showed up in Wayne County both this year and last. Recently, they have also been found in Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Windsor, Ontario. 

MDHHS in partnership with four mosquito control districts and several local health departments, including Wayne County, and in cooperation with Michigan State University and the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease, have been conducting surveillance for invasive mosquito species for several years. The presence of the mosquito was discovered in Michigan for the first time in 2017. Continued surveillance suggests that a breeding population did not survive the winter at the previous location. The finding of the mosquito in Romulus is a separate introduction of this species to Wayne County.

Officials plan continued mosquito surveillance in Romulus and Wayne County.

Several native species of mosquitoes in Michigan can spread disease, including West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. August and September are historically the months with the highest reports of disease in people.  

MDHHS recently confirmed 10 human cases of WNV for 2018, which has resulted in two deaths; one in Wayne County and a second in Kent County. This year, 69 birds have tested positive for WNV from 21 of Michigan’s 83 counties. In addition, 109 WNV positive mosquito pools have been detected in nine Michigan counties. Finding infected birds, animals and mosquitoes in a community is an indication of risk for human infection.

Michigan residents can protect themselves from mosquitoes by:

  • Eliminating sources of standing water such as wading pools, old tires, buckets and containers by dumping water to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching or larvae from developing into biting adults.

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors.

  • Applying an EPA-registered insect repellent according to label instructions.

  • Making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.

For more information about mosquito-borne viruses and mosquito surveillance in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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