n the southern United States, it’s that time of year again: the weather is getting warmer and thousands of baby mosquitoes hatching
But, this year there’s a new problem: Aedes aegypti, otherwise known as the yellow fever mosquito, writes Vice.
According to Vice, the typically brown mosquito with white markings, is a highly aggressive biter and generally found in hot, humid areas like Mexico and Central America – and sometimes the American south.
This year, mosquito control managers were concerned to find a bunch of Aedes aegyptias as far west as southern California, and they’re multiplying quickly.
The female of the species usually lays up to 200 eggs several times a season, just above the water line in containers of standing water.
Aedes aegypti is the perfect carrier for a handful of frightening tropical diseases, including yellow fever, West Nile virus, and dengue fever.
They are also a great transmitter of a little known virus that’s been popping up in the Caribbean this year: Chikungunya, writes Vice.
Its name translates to “that which bends up,” Dr. Tim Brooks at the Rare and Imported Pathogens Department of Public Health England (PHE) told Vice.
Chikungunya is an acute virus transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito – it causes acute fever, joint pain, and rash.
The virus it has a dramatically high rate of epidemic – up to 50% of potential human hosts will contract the disease when bitten.
Of those people, around 10% will have persistent arthritis in the smaller joints for up to three years – which can be debilitating.
Once a person has had the disease, the body develops a lifelong immunity to it – but it generally infects a large proportion of the population.
Scientists have not yet engineered a vaccine or medicine to prevent or treat the disease.
The virus was found for the first time in the Americas in 2013, in the Caribbean.
Since December last year, more than 5,900 suspected cases of chikungunya have been reported in the Caribbean and South America.
While the disease is not as bad as Ebola, which kills people through internal hemorrhaging in the gastrointestinal tract and is currently experiencing resurgence in parts of Africa – it could take a serious toll if it was to break out in southern America.
Long-term arthritic symptoms coupled with a lack of access to health care could have grim consequences.