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The monsoon season is officially over as of Sept. 30, but the downpour last week left behind moisture in which mosquito breeding thrives.
With residual puddles and temperatures still warm, experts say Tucson residents can expect to deal with the gnawing of critters for a little longer.
“Usually after recent rains, (Pima County vector control) will receive more complaints regarding stagnant water,” said Nora Atondo, an environmental health technician with the Pima County Health Department’s vector control team.
That “stagnant water” is where the mosquitoes lay their eggs.
The mosquito season is usually between March and October, she said. The vector control team sets up more than 100 traps around the county during that time to lure and catch large volumes of mosquitoes.
This year was not particularly unusual in terms of the number of mosquito complaints received during the season, Atondo said. From May until now, she said, the team received 383 mosquito-related complaints. Last year, the number was 423 through the end of October.
Maricopa County has not been so lucky. The Associated Press reported last week that Maricopa received more than 10,000 mosquito-related complaints this year, which is nearly double the amount from last year.
“Mosquitoes are survivalists,” said Heidi Brown, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Arizona.
They are very attuned to what’s going on in the weather, she said.
With the later-season rains such as last week’s and the temperature being relatively warm, Tucsonans might see an extension of the mosquito season, she said.
“If there is a meal to be had and water to lay eggs, then I think we will continue to see mosquitoes for a while,” Brown said.
The annoyance of having patches of itchy bumps are not the only consequences of mosquito infestations, nor is there only one type of mosquito. Different mosquito types can carry various viruses, some of which can be deadly, she said.
Chikungunya and dengue fever, which are spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, are not out of the realm of possibility, Brown said. But there have not been any recorded local transmissions this year. Cases recorded in Arizona have been brought in from somewhere else, she added.
In Arizona, the biggest vector-borne disease of concern is the West Nile virus, carried by the culex species, Brown said.
“For most of us, there will be flulike symptoms,” she said. “For a few people, it can be quite devastating. For a small portion of those people, there is actually mortality associated with West Nile.”
So far this year, Pima County has not seen any mosquito samples obtained from traps test positive for the West Nile virus, according to Atondo, the vector control technician.
Experts reminded Tucsonans not to leave stagnant water, in order to prevent virus-carrying mosquitoes from breeding and infesting, and to check for it even in unlikely places, such as underneath flowerpots and dog bowls.
Contact reporter Yoohyun Jung at 573-4224 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @yoohyun_jung
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