Vector Surveillance and Control in Response to Zika
The Middlesex County Mosquito Extermination Commission’s Zika response action plan follows the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Public Health Response Plan for Areas at Risk for Local Zika Virus Transmission and High Volume of Travel Associated Cases.”
Key Mosquito Facts
- Zika virus is transmitted to humans mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes-species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus) or through sexual transmission or maternal-fetal transmission.
- The primary mosquito species (Ae. aegypti) that spreads Zika is NOT present in New Jersey.
- Aedes albopictus, (a.k.a., the Asian tiger mosquito), is well-established in NJ and is one of the main nuisance mosquito species in Middlesex County. It is regarded as a capable, but less efficient, vector of Zika virus.
- Also, both mosquito species can spread dengue & chikungunya.
- The Asian tiger mosquito is a small, dark mosquito with distinctive silvery-white markings, an aggressive daytime biter, and is commonly seen occurring in residential backyards and businesses throughout the county.
- It breeds in a wide range of natural and man-made containers (e.g., gutters, treeholes, plastic containers, birdbaths, buckets, flower pots, used tires, etc.) that hold water for more than seven days.
- Historically, the peak activity of the Asian tiger mosquito in NJ is seen during the middle of July. The Commission anticipates an increase in Asian tiger mosquito activity during this summer.
What is the Mosquito Commission doing about Zika?
Widespread outbreak of Zika is not expected in NJ because of well Organized Mosquito Control Programs at state and county levels, the absence of Ae. aegypti and past experience with chikungunya & dengue diseases. However, isolated cases and small clusters of local infections are possible because of the Asian tiger mosquito.
The prevention or reduction of transmission of Zika and chikungunya viruses is mainly dependent on the control of the Asian tiger mosquito and limiting human-mosquito contact. The Mosquito Commission is taking the following actions:
- Using Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) strategy to control mosquito populations including the Asian tiger mosquito throughout the county.
- Working closely with local and state health officials to ensure timely exchange of epidemiological, risk awareness & mosquito control data in our area to optimize vector control efforts.
- Actively engaging communities through public education events/campaign to promote personal protection measures and prevention techniques to reduce or eliminate Asian tiger mosquito breeding sites.
- Continue source reduction efforts through an aggressive ‘Tire Abatement Program’ to eliminate Asian tiger mosquito habitats. To date, since October 2015, we have collected/removed about 900 scrap tires throughout the county.
- Expanded surveillance/coverage of the Asian tiger mosquito habitats and larvicide treatments in the county. Conducting weekly surveys at fixed trap sites to monitor trends in Asian tiger mosquito abundance in order to guide control efforts.
- Monitoring Asian tiger mosquito activity using specialized traps & when diagnostic testing for Zika becomes available, the sampled mosquitoes will be tested for both Zika and chikungunya to initiate aggressive control measures.
- As per CDC protocol, upon detection of local human infections (travel associated or local transmission), the Commission will conduct intensified larval and adult mosquito control including adulticide spraying in the local area to minimize the spread of the disease.
- In case of wide spread transmission, the Commission will intensify and expand vector control efforts within the areas of active transmission as per CDC protocol, employing area-wide treatments with larvicides and adulticides using application methods appropriate for the scale of the treatment area.