The primary mosquito responsible for transmitting the Zika virus is not established in Nebraska, officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.
The department has conducted surveillance for another type of mosquito, the Asian tiger, which also can transmit the virus. The Asian tiger had been found in very limited numbers in Nebraska previously. Surveillance found the mosquito only in Richardson County.
Dr. Tom Safranek, Nebraska’s state epidemiologist, said the finding was not unexpected and doesn’t change the fact that Nebraska is considered a low-risk state for possible local Zika transmission.
Iowa State University insect experts say an extensive surveillance project last year found that the two mosquito species most associated with Zika virus are not established in the state.
The ISU Medical Entomology Laboratory oversaw mosquito trapping in 15 Iowa counties. The traps collected nearly 176,000 mosquitoes between May 3 and Oct. 4. Not a single specimen of the two species known to transmit Zika was found.
In most people, the virus causes only mild illness, but infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects for the fetus.
The virus, which the World Health Organization had declared an international public health emergency in February, has been reported primarily among people in South America and the Caribbean.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.