Growing mosquito population poses threat to California locals

Throughout California, two types of nonnative mosquitoes with the potential to transmit fatal diseases have spread due to the unusually high temperatures during the summer and fall of last year. This coming spring, the mosquitoes’ populations are expected to grow exponentially, posing a threat to the welfare of Californians statewide.

“What we’re dealing with is an emerging concern,” said Senior Public Health Biologist in the vector-borne-disease section at the California Department of Public Health Marco Metzger. “If these [mosquitoes] become widely successful in California, we have the potential for disease transmission.”

The two aggressive mosquito species stirring concern are the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito. They are known to transmit dengue fever, yellow fever and chikunguny-all diseases that kill thousands of people around the world each year. Over the past several seasons, their populations have tripled in number around California.

“With this surge of mosquitoes, I fear an apocalyptic outbreak of disease may devastate California. My life is in danger,” said senior Jasmine Bautista. “However, I believe this would mean exterminators would have very good business.”

Officials are unsure to what extent this population growth of disease-transmitting mosquitoes will actually affect Californians. There have been very few cases in which people in the United States have acquired dengue fever, yellow fever or chikungunya directly from mosquito bites. Typically, these diseases spread when a mosquito bites an infected traveler returning from outside the United States. According to a series of reports from the California Department of Public Health, less than a dozen people in the contiguous U.S. have ever become sick from being bitten by a mosquito carrying either dengue or chikungunya.

Nonetheless, authorities still warn the public to practice caution by clearing any areas of still water where these mosquitoes can quickly reproduce. In doing so, citizens in California can help reduce the risk of disease transmission resulting from this recent growth in mosquito populations.