By Pang Keyang
February 3, 2016 ǀ Los Angeles
THE first U.S Zika virus transmission case was reported on Tuesday, and is raising concerns for health officials and residents. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health warned residents to take precautions against mosquito bites, residents in foothill area in San Gabriel Valley in particular.
Though no patients in the U.S. have been infected locally by mosquitoes bearing Zika, county Interim Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser said, it’s possible that an infected patient could come to Southern California and be bitten by an Aedes mosquito, and then the bug could spread the virus to new patients.
Aedes albopictus- commonly known as the “Asian Tiger Mosquito” was first identified in the San Gabriel Valley in 2011, and has been doubling its territory every year since then. In the San Gabriel Valley, 16 of the 24 cities in our jurisdiction are infested with Aedes albopictus-Asian Tiger Mosquito, which also infested Southern California, Riverside County, Orange County and San Diego County. All these areas have either Aedes albopictus or Aegypti, according to Kenn Fujioka, manager of the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito Vector Control District.
“It’s important not just for the local Chinese community but for everyone, because of the drought, everybody is saving water but they have to use water. The San Gabriel Valley has a higher risk than areas that do not have mosquitos. Mosquitos are spreading, so you have to assume that mosquitos could be here in Los Angeles County. It is important to minimize it. Last year we got a lot of calls from the foothill cities like Arcadia, Duarte, and Monrovia regarding mosquito bites.”
Benjamin Schwartz, Deputy Chief of the L. A. Department of Public Health also stressed, there will be further concern for the spread of Zika virus in the U.S. as people travel to Brazil for the Summer Olympics. South America is currently the hardest hit area with the virus. Pregnant women in particular are urged not to travel to there during the outbreak because of the risk of birth defects caused by Zika virus.