JACKSON, Miss. – Concerns for the mosquito-borne Zika virus are growing, with hundreds of reported cases in the United States.
We know Zika can cause a rare birth defect in babies born to infected mothers, and now it has been linked to other health problems and brain abnormalities.
Thursday we spoke to experts that say it’s unknown if the mosquito is here in the state, but groups are looking for it right now. They say it can only spread the virus after biting an infected person.
“It’s called Aedes Aegypti, it’s a mosquito that originated in Africa and spread all over the world in the last few centuries,” Mississippi State University Biochemist and Entomologist, Dr. Jonas King explained.
The Aedes mosquito is an insect believed to be in the southern region, so far no one has contracted the virus from a mosquito in the U.S, but according to Dr. King it only takes one bite.
“Since they almost exclusively bite people, so all of the diseases in order to be spread — mosquitoes need to bite somebody that is infected and there’s an incubation period,” he said.
For Vector Disease Control, treating mosquitoes in Hinds and Rankin counties is a year round thing.
“We’re treating the Aedes mosquito for the Zika virus and the Culix mosquito for the West Nile virus,” Vector Contract Supervisor Carolina Jones, explained.
Vector says right now they are working closely with the State Department of Health learning more about the Zika virus, and spraying for the Aedes mosquito during the day since it’s an aggressive daytime biter.
“Those are going to be the mosquitoes are out in your yard during the daytime when the kids are out playing, those are the ones that are biting and those are also the ones that are vectors for the Zika virus,” Jones said.
Experts say the key to keeping mosquitoes away is getting rid of standing water, and wearing mosquito repellant with deet.
For more information and safety tips, visit the CDC’s website.