CDC: Mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus may be in Connecticut - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CDC: Mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus may be in Connecticut

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This map shows the estimated range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This map shows the estimated range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said mosquitoes that are known to transmit the Zika virus may be in parts of Connecticut. 

The CDC posted new maps that show the range of the aedes aegypti mosquito and a related species on its website. 

The new maps, which replaced some that were as old as 12 years, show the mosquito existing in a wider swath. The mosquitoes are now shown to live in parts of the northeast and Midwest. 

Zika virus is linked to birth defects and is often passed from the aedes aegypti mosquito to people, though it can be spread by humans through sex.

Scientist John Shepard said a local outbreak is unlikely because it would require humans to transport mosquitos carrying the virus from elsewhere.

Aedes aegyptai are not native to Connecticut, but scientists said it would be very rare to find them in the state. But, it's something they are closely watching as we get further into the spring. 

"The risk for sustained mosquito transmission in CT is low this season. Aedes aegypti is not established in CT. Ae. albopictus is present but is not considered as likely to cause an outbreak as Ae. aegypti. Therefore I would say locally acquired cases are possible but the risk is far greater for people who travel where the virus is circulating in Ae. aegypti," said Maura Downes, who is the director of communications for the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  

Scientists believe there are two species of the aedes aegypti mosquito that carry the virus. Both may live as far north as Connecticut's shoreline and a small portion of southwestern Connecticut.

"There are more places at risk than know they are at risk," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, who spoke to the Associated Press.

Frieden said the insects still have to bite someone who is infected in order to spread the disease. 

"I think the concern is there because if indeed the Zika virus has established a new reservoir, then there are certainly likely to be more cases," said Dr. Ulysses Wu, St. Francis Hospital.

There has already been one case in Connecticut, which was reported nearly two weeks ago by health officials, and was not a pregnant woman. Connecticut Department of Public Health said they have received results from 119 patients including 106 pregnant women. 

Health officials said the patient traveled to a Zika-affected area and after falling ill, tested positive in the state.

More than 270 cases have been reported in the U.S. among travelers. 

Officials said most people who fall ill show no symptoms; however, the virus can create an eye infection, headaches and muscle aches.

There are several environmental agencies working on mosquito management in Connecticut. They will begin trapping mosquitos in late May and testing them for viruses such as Zika.

As for the ones that specifically carry Zika, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it is not expanding its efforts.

"If, through surveillance by the the Department of Public Health and the CT Agriculture Experiment Station (CAES), we find Zika virus in our mosquito population, we will work with affected towns to educate their workers on what to look for (as far as potential mosquito-breeding habitat), increase education and communication efforts about cleaning up yards and neighborhoods of standing water, and working with towns to advise them if they should chose to hire a private mosquito control applicator to spray selected areas," said Roger Wolfe, Mosquito Management Coordinator.

Wolfe said that if, based on the state's Zika Virus Response Plan, DEEP sees a number of human cases of the virus, and the mosquito populations and weather conditions contribute to more cases, DEEP could initiate spraying to knock down the adult insect population.

Read more on the virus from the CDC here

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