Scientists have identified a new invasive species of mosquito in Florida that has the potential to transmit diseases, such as yellow fever, from animals to humans.
Scientists discovered that the species Aedes scapularis, which was initially mostly found in the Caribbean islands and in South and Central America, recently became well-established in South Florida for the first time. DNA analysis confirmed the species.
According to the study published earlier this March in the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, the species has potential public health implications to the state because it feeds on both animals and humans and is known to transfer pathogens.
Researchers of the study warned that the species has the potential to disperse and establish diseases from other countries into the United States.
University of Florida Entomologist Lawrence Reeves told NPR that the species in Brazil have been found to be infected with diseases “like Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, yellow fever virus, and a handful of others.”
Researchers predicted that the species is “highly suitable” to thrive in at least 16 counties in Florida and in some parts of Texas, as well as along the Gulf Coast.
Researchers also warned that climate change can also influence where the species can thrive.
Researchers are currently tracking the species to find out how it spreads throughout Florida.
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