For the first time in the Western Hemisphere, researchers have detected the Zika virus in Aedes albopictus, the mosquito species known as the “Asian tiger,” a finding that increases the number of U.S. states potentially at risk for transmission of the disease.
During the summer months when U.S. mosquito populations are at their peak, albopictus is more ubiquitous than the Aedes aegypti mosquito that has been the primary vector of the spread of Zika elsewhere in the Americas. Unlike the aegypti mosquito, which is mostly present in southern United States and along the Gulf Coast, the albopictus has a range as far north as New England and the lower Great Lakes.
The discovery was reported recently by the Pan American Health Organization after researchers in Mexico confirmed the presence of Zika in Asian tiger mosquitoes captured in the state of San Luis Potosi and sent them to government labs for testing. …
U.S. health officials say the latest discovery should serve as a wake-up call to state and local governments that have assumed their populations were too far north to be at risk.