Q&A on the News

Q: I would like to know if the Zika virus can be transmitted to mosquitoes from biting an infected human? If the virus can be transmitted to a mosquito from a person infected with the Zika virus, is the government taking steps to prevent the population of our mosquitoes from becoming infected before they become active this spring?

—Tim Smith, Sharpsburg

A: The Zika virus is transmitted when a mosquito bites a person who recently has been exposed to the virus and it's developing in their bloodstream.

This usually occurs 3-12 days after a person has been bit by a virus-carrying mosquito, Elmer Gray, an entomologist with the University of Georgia, told Q&A on the News in an email.

There are 63 species of mosquitoes in Georgia, but the Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that usually carries and spreads the Zika virus, is “very rare” in the state.

There is “only a remnant population in Columbus and a few specimens collected in Chatham County every couple years,” Gray wrote.

Local governments generally are responsible for mosquito control and eradication and have various programs.

Mosquitoes are dormant in Georgia until the weather turns warmer, so “there isn’t much that can be done right now. As summer begins, it will be imperative that homeowners and government agencies do their best to eliminate standing water where the mosquito larvae develop,” he wrote.

Gray said EPA approved repellents are effective in reducing mosquito bites.

“If people use due diligence, the potential for Zika transmission in Georgia is limited,” he wrote.

Andy Johnston with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).