Local experts closely monitoring mosquitos for Chikungunya

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 7/23 10:20 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- With the recent wet weather, we are seeing more mosquitos in the area than usual. After recent reports of the Chikungunya virus in Florida, local experts are working to make sure the disease is not spreading in our area.

"Mosquitos need water to survive and they need blood to go ahead and reproduce," said Jim Shaffer, Program Coordinator for Vector-Borne Diseases.

Shaffer said by biting people and animals to get that blood, mosquitos spread disease. With wet weather helping the bugs breed, their weekly mosquito traps are more important than ever.

"The Nevada Department of Agriculture tests them for us for any diseases like West Nile [and] Saint Louis encephalitis," Schaffer said. 

So far, the tests have come back negative, but Shaffer said there is a new threat on their radar. "We're also concerned with one of the new viruses: the Chikungunya virus."

CDC reports show the disease surfaced last year. There is no vaccine to prevent it and no medicine to cure it. Last month, the U.S. saw its first infectious bites.

"There's been two locally transmitted cases, actually the first two, in the state of Florida," Schaffer said.

No one has picked up the disease in Nevada yet, but Shaffer said the two types of mosquitos that typically carry Chikungunya are not far away. "It's moved from Southern California last year into the San Joaquin Valley in Fresno and Madera Counties," he said.

Shaffer said there is no reason for alarm. "We do have our weekly surveillance trapping, so if they do come into this area we will be aware."

Shaffer said prevention is key. You should check your yard for standing water. Even as little as a half inch is enough for mosquitos to thrive.
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