California Department of Public Health

Aedes aegypti  (the yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito)

Summer weather has finally moved on. But the mosquito season in the City of San Fernando, and other parts of the Valley and Los Angeles county, is not over.

Representatives from the Greater Los County Vector Control District (GLACVCD) recently met with residents at O’Melveny Elementary School to address the documented “sporadic activity” of these flying pests that can transmit a variety of diseases to human beings through their bites.

According to Levy Sun, GLACVCD public information officer, aedes mosquitoes — which were prevalent in Pacoima during the summer months — are showing up in the City of San Fernando and other parts of the Valley.

“We have found the mosquitoes here” at the school, Sun said. They have also been discovered in surrounding neighborhoods and other communities.

“It’s not a school problem, it’s a city problem,” Sun said.

Aedes mosquitoes, Sun said, will migrate, thrive and breed wherever there are people or stagnant water sources. They have black-colored bodies with either white spots or white lines. They tend to bite or “feed” primarily during daylight hours, particularly two hours after sunrise or a few hours before sunset. And their lifespan has been extended by the unusually warm fall weather in October and November. 

Currently the aedes mosquitos are more or less of a nuisance. But Sun pointed out that bites from the female aedes mosquito can trigger outbreaks of Zika virus, yellow fever, and dengue fever. None are usually fatal, but they can cause a lot of pain and other, serious complications.

Yellow fever symptoms can include fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains — particularly in the back — and headaches. In about 15 percent of infected people there can also be abdominal pain and liver damage, which could cause the skin to turn yellow. And the disease may be difficult to tell apart from other illnesses, especially in the early stages.

Dengue fever symptoms typically begin three to 14 days after an infection and include high fever, headaches, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Recovery can generally take up to seven days.

The Zika virus can have milder symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. But it can also create neurological disorders in adults. And if contracted by a pregnant woman, it can cause severe brain malformations and other birth defects in newborns.

Unfortunately there is no current vaccine for the Zika virus, Sun said. “There are vaccines for the others. But I don’t know the level of supply if there is a major outbreak.”

Sun said people susceptible to mosquito bites should continue to protect themselves with insect repellant and wear long-sleeve outer garments. And homeowners and businesses should rid themselves of any areas of standing, stagnant water. The female aedes mosquito can lay her eggs in something as small as a bottle cap if there is water in it.

He added there are no current plans for the vector control to come into San Fernando and spray repellant or other chemicals in neighborhoods to eliminate the pests.

“We would do so if there are outbreaks of Zika or the other fevers,” he said. “But spraying is at best a short-term solution. It does not eliminate their eggs, or standing water areas.”

He also advised against simply putting insect repellant on kids before going to school “because kids tend to wipe it off or sweat it off.” Instead, they should bring a repellant with them, and apply as needed.

Besides repellant and eliminating stagnant water areas, root for a cold winter.