(CBS DETROIT) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Wayne County Health Department have identified the first known occurrence of the invasive Asian tiger mosquito in 2021.

Aedes albopictus, otherwise known as the Asian tiger mosquito. | Credit: Centers for Disease Control

Asian tiger mosquitoes were first identified in Wayne County in 2017, in an industrial area of Livonia. Then they were found in Wayne County again in 2018 and 2020.

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Aedes albopictus, otherwise known as the Asian tiger mosquito, along with Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) can transmit viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika to people.

These mosquitoes do not occur naturally in Michigan, because winters are usually too harsh for them to survive. However, warmer temperatures are causing these mosquitoes to spread into northern regions.

“Although we have not had any illnesses associated with these species of mosquitoes in Michigan, it is important to take precautions since other mosquitoes can spread viruses such as West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis to people,” said Dr. Mary Grace Stobierski, MDHHS Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases manager. “Recent heavy rainfall and flooding has led to a general increase in mosquito activity throughout the state, so we urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using an EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors.”

The mosquitoes are established in many mid-western states including Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, and they likely spread to Michigan by traveling in commercial products shipped from these states.

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MDHHS has partnered with local health departments in Wayne and 23 other counties in Michigan to conduct surveillance for the two mosquito species that can carry Zika and other tropical viruses.

These mosquitoes breed in areas where water collects, including old tires, gutters, and flower pots.

Surveillance shows that the breeding populations do not survive Michigan’s winters.

Michigan residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

  • Eliminating sources of standing water such as wading pools, old tires, buckets, and containers by dumping water to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching or larvae from developing into biting adults.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
  • Applying an EPA-registered insect repellent according to label instructions.
  • Making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
  • Using a licensed mosquito-control company.

For more information visit, Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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