“Although we have not had any illnesses associated with these species of mosquitoes in Michigan, it is important to take precautions since other mosquitoes can spread viruses such as West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis to people,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using an EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors.”
Aedes albopictus, along with Aedes aegypti(the yellow fever mosquito), can transmit viruses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika to people. The mosquitoes are widespread from tropical to temperate regions of the globe, including many parts of the U.S. They do not occur naturally in Michigan, where winters are usually too harsh for them to survive. However, warming climate trends are supporting the spread of these mosquitoes into more northern regions.
The Asian tiger mosquito can live in areas with climates that range from tropical to temperate, and it has been extending its known range in the U.S. They are considered established in many midwestern 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 have shown up in Wayne County.
This summer, MDHHS has again partnered with local health departments in Wayne and 23 other counties in Michigan to conduct surveillance for the two mosquito species that can carry Zika and other tropical viruses, according to a news release. The invasive day-biting mosquitoes breed in containers where water collects, such as old tires, gutters and flowerpots. Continued surveillance to date suggests that breeding populations have not survived the winter in our state.
Industries that import into Michigan items that can hold water and serve as breeding sites for mosquitoes should consider taking precautions to kill mosquito larvae that may be present in these products, according to the MDHHS.
The MDHHS said Michigan residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites 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.
- Making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.