LIVONIA, Mich. – The first documented Asian tiger mosquitoes in Michigan's history have been found in Wayne County, health officials said.
While the Aedes albopictus species -- commonly known as the Asian tiger mosquito -- is capable of spreading the Zika virus, officials emphasized there is no evidence of Zika virus-infected mosquitoes in Michigan or the entire Midwest this year.
The mosquitoes were found in an industrial area in Livonia along the I-96 corridor, officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness announced.
Should you be concerned?
"Finding Asian tiger mosquitoes in Michigan is no reason for great concern," said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS. "Many of our neighboring states have found them previously, and have not seen Zika transmission from this species. 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 summer, MDHHS, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health departments in Wayne and 24 other counties in Michigan teamed up to search for the two mosquito species that can carry Zika virus.
Prior to the discovery, over 20,000 non-Zika vector mosquitoes had been trapped and identified by local health departments. Efforts to further investigate the spread of Asian tiger mosquitoes in Wayne County are already underway. The invasive day-biting mosquito breeds in containers where water collects, such as old tires, gutters and flower pots.
The species has been extending its known range and recently was found in Nebraska, Connecticut, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Protective measures to take
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.
Livonia has been proactive in its mosquito-control efforts, as the city has treated 11,000 catch basins annually since 2003 to eliminate larval mosquitoes.
The Zika virus, which is spread through mosquitoes and particularly through the Aedes species, can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or through unprotected sexual contact. A large outbreak of Zika occurred beginning in 2015 in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.