Why are mosquitoes considered a dangerous pest?
Mosquitoes 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 (EEE). In Africa, more than 700,000 children die each year from malaria.
Is West Nile virus something that the average American should be concerned about?
West Nile virus is a common concern among Americans – and rightfully so. West Nile virus has continued to spread across the country since the first reported incidence in 1999. The worst year for the mosquito-borne disease was 2002, which saw nearly 3,000 severe cases and 284 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, experts are predicting that the outbreak in 2012 might become the deadliest ever. As of September 18, there have been 3,142 cases and 134 deaths reported to the CDC this year. Texas has remained the epicenter, accounting for forty percent of the nation’s West Nile virus cases.
Are mosquitoes more prevalent during a specific season?
Mosquitoes are considered one of summer’s most dangerous pests, but they also thrive in the fall. In fact, mosquitoes will remain active until temperatures drop below 60 degrees, so people are currently still at an increased risk of contracting West Nile virus.
Does the weather have an impact on the spread of West Nile virus?
There is no solid evidence as to why 2012 has been such a bad year for West Nile virus, but experts speculate that the extreme heat and drought conditions experienced across the country are a factor. All insects are cold-blooded, which means that their body temperatures are regulated by outside temperatures. When the weather gets hotter, larva grow at a faster pace, breeding cycle speeds up and pests including mosquitoes become more active.
What are the symptoms of West Nile virus?
Dr. Jorge Parada, medical spokesperson for the NPMA, says that in most cases, symptoms of West Nile virus are so slight they go by unnoticed or feel like summer flu. However, in extreme cases, it can be a potentially life-threatening infection with a high fever, head and body aches, worsening weakness, confusion and even coma.
What should I do if I suspect that I have West Nile virus?
If you start experiencing symptoms of West Nile virus, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.
How can I prevent West Nile virus?
There are a number of precautions that people can take to protect their home and family from mosquitoes and minimize the potential of contracting West Nile virus. The NPMA recommends the following tips:
- Eliminate or reduce mosquito-breeding sites around the home by replacing all standing water at least once a week. This includes birdbaths, flowerpots, grill covers, baby pools and other objects where water collects. Mosquitoes on need about ½ inch of water to breed.
- Screen windows, doors, and other openings with mesh. Repair even the smallest tear or hole.
- 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.
- Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus on exposed skin whenever outdoors. Check product labels for information on age restrictions to make sure they are safe for your toddler or infant.
If you are concerned about mosquito activity on your property, consider contacting a pest management company. They can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes and decrease the risks for mosquito-borne illnesses by inspecting properties for mosquito breeding sites and treating to control mosquitoes. In addition, they can suggest corrective actions, and provide basic information, current news and references to other sources.
You can also 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.