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O.C. May Be Home to Bug That Can Carry Dengue Fever

September 18, 2004|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

Orange County Vector Control District investigators are searching in Orange for evidence of the latest pest to arrive here: the Asian tiger mosquito, which can transmit yellow fever and dengue fever.

The yard-to-yard search, which was launched after a resident complained of a bite from an unusual-looking mosquito, has uncovered either Asian tiger adults or larvae at six locations, said Russell Sipe, the district's project coordinator.

More than 600 homes in a quarter-mile radius are being checked. The search should conclude by Monday or Tuesday, Sipe said. The workers are searching standing water for mosquitoes, and taking any they find to labs for testing.

The mosquito is "very aggressive, very vicious," said Michael Hearst, a district spokesman. "We warn people about dawn and dusk, but this mosquito bites during the day." He said there is no evidence that local insects are carrying yellow fever or dengue fever.

Many yellow fever infections are mild, but the disease can cause life-threatening illness. Symptoms of severe infection are high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting and backache. Most people who develop dengue fever recover completely within two weeks. Some, however, may experience several weeks of tiredness and/or depression.

Neither disease is present in California.

Because the Asian tiger prefers to bite mammals instead of birds, it is not considered a significant threat to spread West Nile virus.

The Asian tiger mosquito is thought to have arrived aboard a pleasure boat towed from the Southeast, Hearst said.

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