An Australian mosquito. Photo by aussiegall from sydney, Australia [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
An Australian mosquito. Photo by aussiegall from sydney, Australia [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

An Australian mosquito capable of transmitting viruses to humans and considered a major contributor to heartworm in dogs was discovered at homes in Monterey Park and Montebello, vector-control officials said Monday.

It’s unclear if the discovery of the mosquito — formally known as Aedes notoscriptus but referred to as “Aussie Mozzie” — presents a public health risk, but due to its effect on dogs, it could cause concerns for pet owners, officials said. The discovery is believed to be the first instance of the Aussie Mozzie being found in North America, officials said.

“This is one of the most widespread pest mosquitoes in Australia and, as well as being a nuisance-biting pest, has been implicated with mosquito- borne disease outbreaks in our cities,” said Dr. Cameron Webb of the Marie Bashir Institute of Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity at the University of Sydney, Australia.

One of the mosquitoes was initially found in June, but officials were not able to positively identify it. Another was found in August after a Montebello resident called authorities about the black-and-white striped pest.

Southland vector-control officials said they do not consider the discovery of the pest to be a “pressing threat.” The mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in smaller containers of water and they bite most aggressively in the afternoons and evenings. The mosquitoes have been known to transfer viruses such as Barmah Forest and Ross River to humans.

Local authorities said they believe the more pressing threat locally is the Asian tiger mosquito, which has been the target of eradication efforts that began in 2011. The mosquito can transmit diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, although there have been no records of such viruses being transmitted locally.

City News Service

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