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Mosquitoes, armyworms and fruit-damaging flies invade Texas.
The Aedes albopictus or Asian tiger mosquito (shown here) is one of the two mosquito species known to commonly transmit chikungunya. The other is Aedes aegypti. Both species are found in Texas.
Texas AgriLife media specialists report this week on a trio of pests that threaten crops, fruits and humans.
Fall armyworms are coming in early this year, aided by unseasonable rains. A tiny pest, the spotted wing drosophila, could do significant damage to Texas fruit production. And the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are responsible for several cases of chikungunya disease in the state. Those mosquitoes are found in Texas.
Paul Schattenberg reports that chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, has been identified in five Texas counties — four of them in South Central Texas — and may become endemic to the state, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologists.
“The first confirmed case of the disease in Texas was in Williamson County, and the most recent confirmed case was in Bexar County,” said Molly Keck, AgriLife Extension entomologist and integrated pest management specialist, Bexar County.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, cases have also been confirmed in Gonzales, Travis and Harris counties.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website notes chikungunya is not considered fatal, but can have serious symptoms, including severe joint pain and swelling, fever, muscle pain, headache and rash. Those most at risk are the very young, people over 65 and individuals with chronic medical conditions. The virus is not spread from person to person, and there is no treatment other than managing the symptoms.
Keck said the disease is fairly well known in Africa, Asia and Europe, but has more recently found its way into the Caribbean and the Americas.