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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Rare mosquito found at Hawaii airport prompts 'call to action'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A rare mosquito has been found on Oahu for the first time in more than 60 years. Now the state is reminding people to get rid of standing water on their property.

The disease-carrying Aedes aegypti species hasn't been found on the island since 1949. The vector control program recently identified the pest in traps at the Honolulu International Airport.

Hongly Khuy is constantly swatting at mosquitoes around his Kalihi Valley home. They've multiplied after the recent rains.

"When it's wet, inside the house okay, but when you go around the house, around this area, whoa, it's just like tons you know," said Khuy.

Khuy's yard is also filled with buckets of water lilies and water hyacinths, but hungry fish in the containers help to control the mosquito population. It's a trick he learned in his native Cambodia.

"Some people look at my bucket and say, 'Oh, you have a lot of mosquito.' No, it's not really. I know how to take care of it. We put guppies inside and it eat all the mosquito larvae," explained Khuy.

The Aedes albopictus mosquito is common in Hawaii. The Aedes aegypti, which is more aggressive in spreading diseases, used to be found only in a few isolated spots on the Big Island. According to experts, the aegypti mosquito can rapidly spread dangerous diseases like dengue and yellow fever. Hawaii's health department has already received one reported case of imported dengue fever this year. In 2011, authorities investigated six imported cases.

"I heard of those diseases, dengue fever or of course malaria, we don't have it here, but I'm not too concerned about that," Khuy said.

Budget cuts crippled the state's vector control program. The traps at the airport are now the only routine mosquito surveillance on Oahu. Despite the threat, Khuy plans to keep growing his flowers, but he said he'll be more careful to avoid getting bitten.

The state is asking health care providers to report any patients with a dengue-like illness.

The DOH urges residents and property owners to:

  • Clear standing water from areas where mosquitoes may breed.
  • Take a few minutes every week to inspect your yard and home and eliminate anything that holds water and can breed mosquitos.
  • Throw away old junk that collects water like old buckets, tires and flowerpots.
  • Clear rain gutters and turn over empty containers.
  • Treat anything you can't dump out with soapy water to kill mosquito wigglers.

For more information on reducing mosquitoes in and around your home and business click HERE.

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