Is West Nile Virus something that the average American should be concerned about?
West Nile Virus continues to be a concern among Americans—and rightfully so. A recent consumer survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) points to mosquitoes as the number one concern in summer for homeowners nationwide.
West Nile Virus has spread across the country from Pennsylvania to Washington State since the first reported incidence in 1999. Since then, there have been a total of 19,710 reported cases, 785 of which were fatal. (Cite the CDC surveillance website totals). [[Figures from CDC West Nile Virus surveillance website totals from 1999-2006]]. In 2008, there were 1356 cases reported to the CDC.
If so, are there certain populations who are most at risk?
West Nile Virus effects populations nationwide.
What are some precautions that can be taken to help prevent mosquito bites in infants and toddlers?
There are a number of precautions parents can take to protect their home and family from mosquitoes. NPMA recommends a three-pronged approach: eliminate their food, shelter, and water. Here are some tips:
- Eliminate or reduce mosquito-breeding sites by replacing all standing water at least once a week. This includes birdbaths, ponds and swimming pools.
- Remove unneeded vegetation or trash from around any standing water sources that cannot be changed, dumped or removed.
- Introduce mosquito-eating fish such as gambusia, green sunfish, bluegills and minnows to standing water.
- Screen windows, doors, and other openings with mesh.
- Use mesh that is 18X18 strands per inch, or finer.
- Seal around all screen edges; and keep doors and windows shut to prevent entry of most mosquito species.
- Avoid going outdoors when and where mosquitoes are most active: during dusk or dawn.
- Use repellent on exposed skin whenever and wherever mosquitoes are likely to bite. Check product labels for information on age restrictions to make sure they are safe for your toddler or infant.
- According to the CDC, the most effective repellents currently available contain the active ingredient N, N-diethylbenzamide (DEET), in concentrations up to about 35% (greater concentrations don’t offer better protections). Again, check the product label for safety information regarding small children.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants, preferably treated with a repellent as well.
Consider contacting a pest control professional. They can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes and decrease the risks for mosquito-borne illnesses by inspecting properties for mosquito breeding sites, treating to control mosquitoes, and by suggesting corrective actions, providing basic information, current news and references to other sources.
Contact your municipality or township to see if your community has a mosquito management program in place. Only a concerted community-wide effort can properly manage these pests and reduce the risks associated with them.
I’ve heard mosquitoes described as the most dangerous animals on earth because a high volume of fatalities can be attributed to mosquitoes. Do you feel this is accurate? Why or why not?
Mosquitoes are dangerous insects since they are known to transmit many potentially fatal diseases to both humans and mammals, such as horses. Some of the most common and well-known diseases include West Nile Virus, malaria, dengue fever and equine encephalitis. In Africa, over 700,000 children die each year from malaria.
Have the reported cases of West Nile Virus increased during recent years?
The reported incidences of West Nile Virus have generally increased over the years, with the most significant spike in 2003 with over 9,000 reported cases according to the CDC.
What is the forecast for mosquito-borne illness in the future?
Unfortunately we do not have a crystal ball to predict future outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses or other pest-related illnesses. What we do know is that mosquitoes have been on this planet for millions of years and will continue to thrive.
Will we see an increase in the numbers of people infected by mosquito bites?
We really have no way to predict infection by mosquito bites.