New Mexico Department of Health
Our mission is to promote health and wellness, improve health outcomes, and assure safety net services for all people in New Mexico.
David Morgan
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575-649-0754 Mobile

Mosquitoes Capable of Transmitting Zika Found in Sierra County

August 25, 2016 - Zoonotic Diseases - Alert

Aedes aegypti can transmit Zika virus from one infected person to another uninfected person.

Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth.The New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico State University (NMSU) announced today that Aedes aegypti, a species of mosquito that can transmit Zika virus, has been identified in Sierra County. This is the first time this mosquito species has been identified in this county.

Mosquito surveillance in many of New Mexico’s counties is part of a New Mexico State University project funded by the New Mexico Department of Health to map out the range and distribution of both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus in the state. Both mosquito species are capable of transmitting Zika virus to people. The project is ongoing. Twenty-four counties across the state are being sampled.

“This collaboration with NMSU gives us a clearer picture of the areas at risk of Zika transmission in the state,” said Lynn Gallagher, Health Secretary designate. “As a result, the New Mexico Department of Health is better able to educate and inform residents about Zika based on where they live.”

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in containers like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. They prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. They are aggressive daytime biters, but they can also bite at night. The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

“Both Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes live in close proximity to people and their homes, so it is very important to remove any standing water around the home where the mosquitoes could lay their eggs,” said Paul Ettestad, the health department’s public health veterinarian. “The Aedes aegypti mosquito has been the main driver of the Zika virus outbreak to date. There have been no cases of Zika virus disease identified in Sierra County.”

So far this year, New Mexico has had six reported cases of Zika virus disease. Of those, all six were in travelers who were infected abroad and diagnosed after they returned home. The two most recent cases were women, one residing in Bernalillo County, the other in Santa Fe County.

To date, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been trapped and identified this summer in Doña Ana, Eddy, Chaves and Sierra counties and Aedes albopictus in Roosevelt County. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes have also been reported from Otero County and Aedes albopictus from Curry County in past years.

To avoid Zika and other viruses like West Nile Virus, which are spread by mosquitos, take the following steps:

For more information about Zika virus, visit the Zika Virus section of our website and the Zika Virus Information for Pregnant Women page.


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Se han encontrado en el condado de Sierra mosquitos capaces de transmitir Zika