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Aggressive mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases found in California

FRANCE-MOSQUITO-TIGER

An Asian Tiger mosquito is pictured, on September 29, 2015 in Nice, Southeastern France. 

(VALERY HACHE / AFP/Getty Images)

Unusually aggressive mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases have been found in many parts of California, including Los Angeles and Orange counties, health officials warn.

The two invasive species of mosquitoes spotted in California — the Asian tiger and yellow fever mosquito — can transmit infectious diseases, including dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.

“There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya or dengue fever,” California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Karen Smith said in a statement. “To prevent these diseases from becoming established in California, it is important for everyone to take steps to keep these mosquitoes from spreading.”

Chikungunya, which causes fevers and severe joint pain, is typically seen only in Africa and Southeast Asia, though recently cases have been reported in Mexico, Latin America and Florida. Dengue fever, which causes severe headaches, fevers and pain, is usually found only in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Central America. Both diseases can be fatal.

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Smith said that although the risk of contracting these diseases in California remains low, infected travelers who come to the state and are bitten by mosquitoes can lead to the spread of the disease.

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The invasive mosquito species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are identified by their black-and-white stripes, and their tendency to bite people in the middle of the day, unlike more common mosquitoes that come out mostly at dusk and dawn.

At least one of these two mosquito species has been seen in swaths of East L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley, Anaheim and parts of San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties. In total, they’ve been found in 10 of the state’s 58 counties.

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Smith advised people to wear mosquito repellent and long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside. She also said to use air conditioning to prevent mosquitoes from coming in through open windows. These mosquitoes readily enter buildings, she added.

Twitter: @skarlamangla.

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