TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes announced today that Mercer County will participate in a multi-million-dollar federal grant study on Asian Tiger Mosquitoes and work to develop an "integrated pest management strategy" to address the growing threat that these mosquitoes pose to public health in the region.
Provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, this $4.5 million grant will enable the County to work cooperatively with Rutgers University, the Agricultural Research Service, Monmouth County, and other researchers from other universities to explore strategies for controlling and eliminating Asian Tiger Mosquito populations in central New Jersey. Participants in the project will then work to develop guidelines for other areas in the United States that suffer from Asian Tiger Mosquito infestations.
Aedes albopictus, known colloquially as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, first appeared in New Jersey in 1995. Populations of this particular species remained relatively stable until last season; due to a mild winter, many mosquitoes survived and presented a major public health problem during the summer of 2006.
Unlike most other mosquitoes, Asian Tiger Mosquitoes prefer to draw blood from humans. These winged pests can carry not only West Nile virus, but also Dengue and Yellow Fever. In addition, Asian Tiger Mosquitoes can harbor and spread the Chikungunya virus-a pathogen currently epidemic in the Indian subcontinent and Italy, and projected to reach the United States within the next 5 to 10 years.
"Asian Tiger Mosquitoes present an increasing public health concern for Mercer County," said Hughes. "A lot of residents have begun to complain about these mosquitoes, and we're doing what we can to prevent further population growth. Unfortunately, though, Asian Tiger Mosquitoes are difficult to control due to the larvae's preference for small spaces."
Hughes explained that Asian Tiger Mosquitoes proliferate when small containers with standing water avail themselves, and urged residents to eliminate any such potential larval grounds on their own properties. "Mosquito control is a job for everyone," the County Executive stressed, "and I implore everyone to do their part in controlling this serious threat to public health in Mercer County."