The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported Monday that a species of mosquito capable of carrying the Zika virus has been found in the state for the first time.
The Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito as its commonly known, is one type of mosquito that can spread Zika. It was discovered in Dane County, and only three of this type were found.
“It was only three mosquitoes that we’ve been able to detect,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison entomologist Susan Paskewitz. “And we went back out to the same location and have looked and just haven’t been finding them. So at the end of the summer I might say something different after we’ve looked in more places and had longer to see if this represents an opportunity for these mosquitoes to get more of a foothold.”
Paskewitz said it’s not surprising to find this specific mosquito. Surrounding states such as Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota have Aedes albopictus. But the mosquitoes tend to die off.
“Minnesota, for example, has reported them 17 different times and not a single time have they persisted. They seem to be introduced from other places, but they’re not likely to get to any high population level that would cause us problems at least in the near term.”
Wisconsin’s mosquito surveillance has increased the chances of finding such a mosquito.
“Recently the Centers for Disease Control has given us some more resources to do that, and as soon as we do (more surveillance), then we begin to detect them,” Paskewitz said. “So I’m not really surprised that we’re finding them here.”
State health officials say Zika is primarily spread by another mosquito, the Aedes aegypti, which lives in warmer climates. That mosquito has not been found in Wisconsin or any neighboring states.