New Asian mosquito found in B.C. a potential disease carrier

Mosquito species that can spread encephalitis found in Maple Ridge, Mission, believed established in Lower Mainland

A new potentially disease-carrying mosquito species not previously found in Western Canada is now believed to be breeding in the Lower Mainland. This adult female was found in Mission in May.

An invasive Asian mosquito that can carry diseases such as encephalitis has been detected for the first time in Western Canada, at a site in Metro Vancouver.

SFU biologist Peter Belton was among the researchers who found the Aedes Japonicus mosquito species breeding in water on a tarp in a Maple Ridge backyard.

The closest the species had been detected previously was in southern Washington and Oregon in 2008, and it has been found in Eastern Canada and the U.S. since 1998.

The mosquito is capable of transmitting West Nile virus, three types of encephalitis and Chikungunya, a viral disease that causes fever and severe joint pain mainly in Africa and Asia.

Belton says the mosquito could pose a significant public health hazard in the future if global warming expands the distribution of the diseases it can carry.

“We believe it could be a significant threat to the health of humans and domestic animals and recommend that its population should be monitored,” Belton and other researchers said in their paper published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

There is no current concern about disease spread from the new species but that could change, said Scott McMahon, operations manager for Culex Environmental, which monitors mosquitos in the region for Metro Vancouver.

“West Nile was never in Canada before either,” he said, adding that could be a cautionary tale for the eventual arrival of a new disease.

“You don’t know how it might be introduced, but we’re one step closer I would say,” McMahon said.

“To have a pathogen and the transmission of it you need the right (mosquito) species and the right pathogen. Now we have one out of two.”

Researchers first identified the Japonicus larvae in July 2014 in a Maple Ridge garden, where more than 200 were counted by early 2015.

An adult female was found feeding 13 kilometres further east in in Mission in May.

That led the researchers to conclude at least two populations have been established in the Lower Mainland.

SFU researchers and Culex Environmental are continuing to study the insects, hoping to pinpoint their origin through DNA and determine how they are most likely to spread.

The mosquito has been known to spread rapidly in other regions it has invaded and often is found breeding in old car tires.

Tarp in Maple Ridge where new mosquito species was first identified.

Just Posted

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Another snowfall warning for Lower Mainland

Another 5-10 cm expected for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast

Harrison to participate in inter-municipal business licence program

Construction companies and related businesses will be able to work across the Fraser Valley in 2020

Saskia and Darrel kick off spring tour with Chilliwack concert

Stories of the Great Plains delivered in Gaelic, French and more

RCMP officer reaching out to youth about intimate partner violence

Chilliwack officer and friends of Maple Batalia team up to encourage bystanders to speak up

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas resumes battle with suspended staff

Committee meets at B.C. legislature to consider new allegations

North BC broken axle derailment could happen again: TSB

CN coal train derailment caused by broken axle can happen again without a different way to inspect

Former B.C. fire chief sues his city after termination

Keith Green’s civil claim says that he believes he was wrongfully terminated

B.C. man injured in police shooting now in wheelchair

“Shots were fired by police and the Kelowna man was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.”

Peter Tork, Monkees’ lovable bass-guitar player, dies at 77

Tork, Micky Dolenz, David Jones and Michael Nesmith formed the made-for-television rock band

From a drunk judge to Clifford Olson: George Garrett recounts a life in B.C. news radio

New book from ‘Intrepid Reporter’ George Garrett offers readers a glimpse behind the headlines

Wife remembers B.C. man killed in possible case of mistaken identity

Rex Gill was in Kamloops working to support his family after oilfield job dried up

Millennial men least likely to have a family doctor: Statistics Canada

Report found more women have primary care physicians, compared with men

Most Read