The Asian tiger mosquito is the known carrier of the West Nile Virus and encephalitis in equine species.

Arkansas County residents need to be aware of a new mosquito species that has made its home in the county, particularly in the city limits of Stuttgart. The Asian tiger mosquito — known scientifically as the Aedes Albopictues — is considered to be very invasive, obnoxious and potentially dangerous.

"It is distinct in comparison to some of our normal mosquito species in town in that it hunts day and night, is extremely aggressive and is almost impossible to control without the help of property owners in our city," Stuttgart Office of Mosquito Control Director Daniel Massingale said.

The breed requires just a small amount of stagnant water to breed, so anything, he explains, that will hold water will attract the Asian tiger mosquito. Some examples Massingale gave include soda cans, swimming pools and bird baths.

"And unfortunately our chemical does very little during the heat of the day, as evaporation prevents drift from reaching target areas, so we have to rely upon the local citizens to make sure that all stagnant water around their property is removed," Massingale explained.

The Asian tiger mosquito is the known carrier of the West Nile Virus and encephalitis in equine species.

"It is imperative that we reduce breeding sites around our homes and property to reduce the number of this potentially dangerous mosquito," he said.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a potentially serious mosquito-borne disease. More than 30,000 people in the U.S. have been infected with WNV since 1999, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Occasionally, an infected person may develop more severe diseases such as "West Nile encephalitis," "West Nile meningitis" or "West Nile meningoencephalitis."

Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain; meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord; and meningoencephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain and the membrane surrounding it. Almost 13,000 of the individuals who have been reported as having West Nile virus since 1999 have been seriously ill, and more than 1,200 have died.

Other mosquito-borne diseases in Arkansas and surrounding states include St. Louis encephalitis and Eastern Equine encephalitis. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. These illnesses affect birds, animals and humans, causing flu-like symptoms in people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes. A mosquito must first become infected by feeding on a bird, or host, that has the virus and then bite a human or animal to pass the disease along. Certain species of birds — especially crows and blue jays — can also get sick and die from the disease, as can horses, although like most people, birds and horses show no symptoms, according to ADH.

West Nile Virus cannot be spread by person-to-person contact.

For more information or to find out how you can protect your property, call the Stuttgart Office of Mosquito Control at (870) 673-7701.