Zika-transmitting mosquito uncovered by Auburn University researchers

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) -  An eye-opening discovery by Auburn University researchers is calling for a statewide study of mosquitoes.

A team of researchers at Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences went down to Mobile and uncovered Aedes aegypti  – a type of mosquito known for transmitting Yellow Fever, Zika, Dengue,  and Chickengunya.

"I wasn't surprised the mosquito was there," said Ben Mckenzie, an Auburn University graduate research assistant. "We have good habitat and good climate in South Alabama for this type of mosquito."

Researchers said this species was in Alabama 26 years ago and was thought to be gone, but the recent discovery proved otherwise.

"Aedes aegypti can spread a lot of diseases to humans that can have detrimental health effects," said  Sarah Zohdy, Auburn University's associate professor of disease ecology.

Zohdy said the University's research shows the mosquito carries Zika, but that doesn't mean the virus is in Alabama. Although, the use of insecticides is recommended.

"It's not too concerning. I think in general, citizens should always practice vector control if you have standing water around your house. These mosquitoes like breeding in standing water so dump out any standing water," said Zohdy.

Researching staff said they use a backpack aspirator along with other equipment to collect the over 1,000 insects they've studied. Whether they find them more locally than in Mobile will be for future research to decide.

"If we do find them in other counties we will know they are able to colonize in other areas than the southern part of the state," said Mckenzie.

Researchers said they are going to every county in Alabama collecting mosquito samples to hopefully better understand where the mosquitoes are and how they could affect you.

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