There are mosquito species in Massachusetts that CAN carry the Zika Virus. ABC 6 recently reported that the Aedes Albopictus, commonly known as the Asian Tiger mosquito has been found in Bristol County, including New Bedford, Westport & Fairhaven Massachusetts. While we don’t like to cause more alarm than is necessary, we too often hear people say that it is not possible to get Zika here in Massachusetts. In reality, as long as we have a mosquito (Asian Tiger) that can become infected and transmit the Virus, the risk does exist.
How Will Zika Get From Brazil, Colombia & the Caribbean to Massachusetts?
One of the reasons the Zika Virus has been able to spread rapidly is that infected humans can actually infect mosquitoes. While it seems easy enough to avoid mosquitoes during the first seven days of a Zika infection, as instructed by the CDC, there is one large caveat. Only about 15-20% of people infected by Zika Virus will experience symptoms of illness. Not knowing you’re infected with Zika makes it very difficult to avoid transmitting Zika.
Another added complication is the fact that Zika Virus is sexually transmitted. Not knowing you have it after traveling to one of the affected areas can lead to unknowingly spreading it through sexual activity, increasing the risk of an infected person spreading it to local Asian Tiger mosquitoes. So far, there has been seven travel-related cases of Zika Virus confirmed in Massachusetts.
Zika Awareness & Prevention
The story from ABC6 sites the risk for Zika becoming a locally transmitted mosquito-borne virus is low given that the population of Asian Tiger mosquitoes here is relatively few, they urge the importance of awareness and prevention.