Disease-transmitting mosquitoes discovered in Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County officials are sounding the alarm tonight about a non-native mosquito that can transmit diseases from person to person. 

While the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do exist in other parts of California, their discovery in an urban residential area is causing concern as officials work to get the word out to residents to help stop the spread of the mosquitoes. 

On Thursday, workers from the Santa Clara County Vector Control District deployed additional traps in the area where the mosquitoes were first discovered in the East San Jose foothills.   

The traps are being deployed in bushes and other damp and cool areas, where the mosquitoes are likely to reproduce.  

"It is not one you want to see in this area," said Taylor Kelly, a vector ecologist with Santa Clara County. 

The mosquitoes were first discovered during routine surveillance but now specialized traps are being set. The traps use a special human scent as bait – best described as "dirty socks" – to attract the mosquitoes.  

"It is very concerning because the Aedes aegypti can transmit diseases like zika, chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue," said Edgar Nolasco, the director of the Consumer and Environmental Protection Agency for Santa Clara County.  

Vector control officials say they have no idea where these mosquitoes came from nor how they ended up in a residential area far from major highways and commercial areas.

Resident Russ Johnson said workers came to his house last week to let him know of the discovery in his East Foothills neighborhood and asked him to eliminate any sources of standing water in his yard. 

"I am a little more concerned about this one because apparently, it is out during the mid-day and not just dawn and dusk. So that has got me more concerned," Johnson said. 

For now, vector control says this is an all-hands-on-deck situation that requires the quick cooperation of residents. 

"We are asking the public to do their part and do a community effort to ensure that this mosquito does not get established. Go around your home and look for anything – dog bowls, anything that can hold any amount of water," Nolasco said.  

So far only limited, very targeted, spraying has occurred but wider efforts could take place if more of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are discovered.