“Mosquito-Borne Encephalitis Virus Strikes in LA” In the first human case of Saint Louis encephalitis in LA County in 21 years, an infected mosquito was detected near the beach. (Pacific Palisades Patch, Oct. 1, 2018)
In fact, mosquito-borne viruses have been circulating in California for more than a century. In 1930, it was Western Equine Encephalitis and we still must vaccinate our horses. Saint Louis Encephalitis, first reported in 1933, caused its last outbreak in Long Beach in 1984. West Nile Virus, a closed cousin and introduced in New York in 1999, took five years to leap frog nationwide, and reached California in 2003, where 6,583 human cases have been documented between 2003 and 2017. These viruses are carried by indigenous mosquitoes, but a new invader species are competing at the manger. Centuries ago, slave trade brought new species to North America, and new diseases came with sick people. Little has changed, ships are larger, containers massive. Foreign disease agents hop on international flights. Aedes albopictus arrived in 2011. In 2014, it was Aedes aegypti, a vector of Zika, Dengue and Yellow Fever, a disease which terrorized the United States for three centuries. The last epidemic struck New Orleans in 1903. Ironically, this species might reclaim its old territory with a vengeance. Mosquito survival strategies may defy chemical control and genetic manipulations, although successful, remain unpopular even in an emergency. As individuals, we are left with the basics: control of standing water, window screens, elimination of plants with large leaves where the larvae like to nestle, closing of tree holes, removal of rubbish, etc. The 1943 Walt Disney film “The Winged Scourge” says it all. “Natural” products, such as the fragrant citronella and the less aromatic garlic sprays and chewable won’t do it. And we have additional help. For the modest $13.11 annual fee levied on our property taxes, our vector district lawestvector.org offers invaluable services: on-call consultation, extensive website, on-site visit and even mosquito fishes for our ponds.
Mosquitoes love global warming, and thus, they are here to stay with us in California.
Martine Jozan Work