Mosquitoes are out and biting - and more may be capable of transmitting Zika


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Mosquito season has arrived and one Tulane expert says now is the time to protect yourself.

Dawn Wesson has been studying whether our local mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the Zika virus.

"We're going to be on our highest alert again this summer here in New Orleans like we were last year," said Wesson, Ph.D., Tulane University Associate Professor of Tropical Medicine. "We're concerned about the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes - those are the ones that are probably the best vectors. We know that our local species based on our lab studies, there's probably about 35 to 40 percent of them are capable of transmitting the virus so, that's what we will focus on but the second species, the Asian Tiger mosquito which is probably one that people notice more, is also a potential vector so, we need to be concerned about that as well."

While the numbers are small now, they're starting to multiply and get ready because the warmer we get, the more we'll see.

"There's probably a little higher mosquito burden coming through the winter than we've had in some years again, it just depends on how quickly we heat up and if these kinds of temperatures continue, going into Jazz Fest, were probably going to see more activity," said Wesson.

Wesson and her team will continue their study. And, one important question they want to answer is how often do our mosquitoes feed on people since that's the primary way the Zika virus is spread. But, Wesson says using repellant, window screens and air conditioning can all help reduce the potential for transmission by stopping them from feeding on us.

The City says it's already started spraying for mosquitoes. Crews are also working to eliminate mosquito breeding sites throughout New Orleans. And, they're asking you to do the same by getting rid of any standing water around your home.

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