Rare Infectious Mosquitoes Found in Phoenix Suburb


TEMPE, Ariz-Heat-exhausted children, tall saguaro cacti, and teal blue pools decorate homes between Southern and Rural roads in Tempe, Arizona. But what researchers found lurking in the cool shadows may send children inside for the rest of summer to prevent being infected by yellow or dengue fever.

Mosquitoes carrying yellow and dengue fever were recently found in the Phoenix suburb by an Arizona State University entomologist. Health officials are now looking or the pest's breeding grounds in hopes of preventing serious infections.

The mosquitoes are found in Africa and South and Central America. They have been found as far north as Tucson, but this is the first record of the bug reaching the Phoenix-metro area.

There are records more than 400-years old of Yellow fever epidemics. The virus is within the Flavivirus genus. The moniker Yellow fever came from the jaundice the virus often causes, leaving victim's skin a yellowish color.

The disease has a large spectrum of symptoms from a mild cold to severe illness and death. The incubation period is three to six days, with two distinct disease phases. The first symptoms are usually a high fever with muscle pain, loss of appetite, and nausea. The fever is often accompanied by a slow pulse rate. After three or four days of these symptoms, most patients improve.

However, 15% of patients move into a toxic phase of the disease that can lead to jaundice and kidney failure. Bleeding from the orifices and abnormal protein levels occur. More than 50% of these patients die within two weeks. Those who survive the toxic phase often have full recovery with little to no organ damage.

A vaccine has been available for more than 60 years and is required to enter many tropical foreign countries. Yellow fever was in the news last week after a report the vaccine may be responsible for the deaths of several Americans traveling abroad. Several travelers have died after receiving the injection. A further investigation is taking place to verify the report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people living in infectious mosquito areas should wear repellent and protective clothing and sleep under mosquito netting.

Dengue fever is another infectious disease Arizona officials are worried these mosquitoes could transmit. Dengue, also categorized in the Flavivirus genus, is predominantly found in the tropics. It is typically carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that prefers day-feeding on humans. There was no word from Arizona health officials whether this was the mosquito found in Tempe.

The first reported epidemics of Dengue happened in the late 1700s in Asia, Africa, and North America. The spectrum of symptoms for this mosquito-borne disease is also vast-from a slight cold to fatal hemorrhagic fever.

There is no vaccine for Dengue to date, although there is one in development.

There were two people from Arizona who fell ill last year with Dengue after traveling to Panama. Travelers are also recommended to wear repellant, use mosquito netting, and always wear long sleeves and pants.

Health officials in Arizona have no reports of Yellow and Dengue fever infection from the mosquitoes found in Tempe to date.

Information from: www.arizonarepublic.com, www.who.org, www.cdc.gov

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