Zika virus on minds of Mid-Michigan mosquito control agencies

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BAY COUNTY (WJRT) - (03/31/16) - April showers may bring flowers, but they also bring mosquitoes.

As Mid-Michigan counties prepare for mosquito treatments, the CDC is making sure officials are on the look out for the mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus.

The CDC issued an updated map of the U.S. this week showing the estimated range for the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito - which carries the Zika virus. Michigan isn't highlighted on that map, but several neighboring states are.

"We're not quite sure it will make it up this far (Aedes aegypti)," said Tom Putt, director of Bay County Mosquito Control. "Probably won't, but we are concerned and we will monitor for that. We do have some of its second, third, fourth cousins here and that's kind of the unknown - what's going to happen with those."

Next week, Bay County starts aerial treatment for mosquitoes; 45,000 acres of woodlands will be targeted. The goal is to stop common spring mosquito larvae from hatching into adults.

Putt said the CDC is continuing to keep agencies like his updated on Zika virus.

Zika virus can be passed onto humans after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include fever, rash and joint pain. The illness can be extremely dangerous to pregnant women.

Of the more than 300 reported cases in the U.S., all were related to travel abroad. That includes two cases involving Michiganders.

"We're going to be monitoring for it heavily, and we're going to be paying attention to travelers and people coming back from the Caribbean and Mexico, the Olympics and that type of thing,” Putt said.

Standard protocol is for biologists to trap mosquitoes for further study.

A new trap designed to catch Aedes aegypti will be used in Bay County this year to help scientists if the species shows up in our state.

Within the next two weeks, spring mosquito treatments will begin in Saginaw County and Midland County.

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