Here’s A Map Of Where Scientists Have Found Mosquitoes Capable Of Carrying Zika In The U.S.

Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mosquitoes are annoying enough, what with their desire to chomp on juicy humans. However, if the same kind of suckers that carry Zika virus elsewhere in the world could be dwelling among us, that could make them more than irksome: it could make them downright scary. So where exactly in the U.S. could mosquitos capable of carrying Zika mosquitoes show up?

You might’ve seen a map health officials released a few weeks ago, which made it seem like Aedes aegypti — one of the same insects that carries Zika in Central and South America — are basically everywhere, as NPR’s Health Shots points out.

(The Aedes albopictus mosquito can also transmit Zika with its bite, but they’re “less likely to spread viruses like Zika, dengue, chikungunya and other viruses,” the Centers for Disease Control says).

Here’s the map showing the estimated range for the A. aegypti mosquito, in case you didn’t see it:



That looks like, well, a lot of the country, as NPR’s Michaeleen Douclef points out, which could send folks rushing to the closest drug store for bug spray.

But there’s another, newer map from CDC scientists that breaks it down, county by county, showing where those scientists have collected A. aegypti over the last 20 years.

Here’s the new one:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the map, the yellow counties reported A. aegypti mosquitoes during one year between 1995 to 2016; orange counties reported mosquitoes in two of those years; and red counties had A. aegypti mosquitoes during three or more years in the last two decades.

That doesn’t mean those bugs are carrying Zika, it just means they’re the same kind that are capable of carrying it. It represents “the best knowledge of the current distribution of this mosquito based on collection records,” entomologist John-Paul Mutebi and his colleagues at the CDC wrote in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

Hot hangouts for mosquitoes include spots you might think of when you think of the bugs, including southern Florida along the Gulf Coast southern Texas, places that are already on the lookout for Zika after having problems with a related virus called dengue.

Other areas show red on the map that you perhaps wouldn’t expect, like California’s Bay Area, Washington, D.C., and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

It’s important to note that these two maps show different things, Mutebi told NPR.

“The first map showed where the climate is able to sustain populations of A. aegypti,” he explains. “This new map shows reports from counties where these mosquitoes were found in the last 20 years.”

The second map isn’t necessarily the whole picture, either, as not all counties have mosquito surveillance programs. Some that do are only focused on looking for the mosquito behind the West Nile Virus. Which yes, means there could be A. aegypti somewhere you don’t expect, but no, that doesn’t mean you’ll get Zika from it.

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