POSTED: 5:10 p.m. HST, Mar 20, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 11:18 a.m. HST, Mar 21, 2012
The discovery of a mosquito species at Honolulu Airport that is capable of "rapidly spreading" dengue and yellow fever has state health officials warning residents to remove standing water to prevent the spread of mosquitoes.
The mosquito species Aedes aegypti has not been found on Oahu since 1949, but the Health Department's vector control program identified the species discovered at Honolulu Airport on March 5, health officials said today
"This mosquito is of public health concern because it known as a species that, if infected, has the ability to rapidly spread dengue and yellow fever," officials said.
Officials have received one reported case of imported dengue fever this year. In 2011, six imported cases of dengue fever were investigated.
Travelers, including Hawaii residents, may be bitten by an infected mosquito while overseas and bring the disease to Hawaii when they arrive in the islands, health officials said.
"Keeping down the mosquito population can prevent the spread of serious illnesses," Gary Gill, the Health Department's deputy director of environmental health said in a statement. "This risk is made worse by rainy weather and now, the reappearance of the aegypti mosquito on Oahu. Let's do what we can to protect our families friends and neighbors."
The mosquito species Aedes aegypti, if infected, has the ability to rapidly spread dengue and yellow fever, health officials said.
The mosquitos were collected the week of Jan. 9 through 17 from a trap at Honolulu Airport that's designed to capture eggs laid by adult females.
The eggs were reared into adults to identify a species and four females and four males were positively identified as Aedes aegypti. Health officials are trying to determine their country of origin.
Due to cutbacks in the Health Department's Vector Control program, the traps at the Honolulu Airport are the only routine mosquito surveillance performed on Oahu, health officials said.
Follow-up surveillance "immediately" began to determine if the aegypti species established itself Oahu, but health officials said no further aegypti mosquitoes have been found.
For more information on reducing mosquitoes, visit http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/mosquitoes/.