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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The corner of North Bluff Road and Stayte Road in White Rock was a hot-spot for signs promoting the five candidates vying for the MLA seat in the Surrey-White Rock riding. (Tracy Holmes photo)
South Surrey/White Rock voters have their say on issues that matter to them

Transportation, trains to COVID-19 are top of mind for Semiahmoo Peninsula residents

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Most Read