As South Florida residents can tell you, mosquitoes come with the year-round warm weather that makes living in the Sunshine State so appealing. In addition to their annoying bites, mosquitoes also carry serious diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus and yellow fever, among other viral hemorrhagic infections. These diseases can manifest in high fevers and chills, backaches, headaches, and loss of appetite, in addition to nausea and vomiting. Yellow fever gets its name from the yellow tint evident in the eyes and skin associated with jaundice victims. Most yellow fever symptoms subside in a few days but the World Health Organization (WHO) website states that 15% of victims "will develop a second, more severe, stage of illness within the next two to 48 hours," possibly advancing into jaundice and viral hepatitis, as well as liver or kidney failure.
Yellow fever outbreak in Brazil affecting areas not usually at risk
A yellow fever outbreak in Brazil that started in 2017 has expanded into areas not usually at risk for yellow fever. According to the WHO, from July 1, 2017 to Feb 16, 2018, "464 confirmed human cases of yellow fever have been reported in Brazil, including 154 deaths." Unlike most seasons, a growing number of confirmed cases were reported in urban centers: "São Paulo (181 cases, including 53 deaths), Minas Gerais (225 cases, including 76 deaths), Rio de Janeiro (57 cases, including 24 deaths) and in the Federal District (1 fatal case)."
South Florida health officials concerned about travelers from Brazil
Health officials in South Florida are concerned that travelers from Brazil may be bringing the deadly virus into the US, through airports in Miami-Dade and Broward County. This is cause for concern, as while yellow fever isn't contagious from human to human contact, infected people may transmit the virus via infected mosquitoes, from human to human. Most likely the same mosquito that caused the Zika virus outbreaks, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, can be infected by a person with the yellow fever virus and then can transmit the virus to other people.
While US outbreak "highly unlikely," warmer parts of US are vulnerable to yellow fever
The Miami Herald reported that, even though it's "highly unlikely" yellow fever outbreaks will occur in the continental United States, "the increase in domestic cases in Brazil and frequency of international travel could lead to travel-related cases occurring in warmer parts of the United States, in the Gulf Coast states, and outbreaks in Puerto Rico and other US territories."
Traveling to Brazil not advisable without the vaccine
As far as traveling to Brazil, according to a March 26, Local 10 ABC News article, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 2 alert for people traveling to Brazil. This enhanced precaution alert advises that anyone traveling to Brazil should get vaccinated against yellow fever 10 days before traveling. The CDC also advises those who have never been vaccinated for yellow fever forego travel to Brazil at this time. Travelers should also be aware that the yellow fever vaccine is available in limited supply in the US, due to Brazil's campaign to vaccinate as many people as possible in all Brazilian states. The Local 10 article stressed the importance of using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing in the way of long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants when outdoors, in addition to getting vaccinated before traveling to Brazil.
What about Zika?
As we begin to get ready for summer fun, many are wondering what ever happened to the threat posed by the Zika virus. Thankfully, for the most part, the Zika virus has disappeared from the Americas. In fact, according to the Pan American Health Organization, no additional countries have reported active local transmission of the disease since late 2016. The CDC's provisional data is showing 424 symptomatic cases of Zika virus disease were reported in the US in 2017. However, to date in 2018, only one case of Zika virus disease has been recorded by health officials in the US and that was a traveler who was returning from an affected area. It seems as though there is no immediate threat of a Zika outbreak in the US but of course there is no guarantee so it is best to err on the side of caution and follow basic precautions across all of South Florida this summer.
Back in South Florida
What can you do to protect yourself and loved ones from getting infected by mosquitoes carrying yellow fever? Hulett Environmental Services outlines a few precautions you can take around your home and property to reduce your risk of mosquitoes.
Eliminate standing water on your property that can provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes
Some things you might not consider as breeding grounds for mosquitoes include:
- Swimming pool covers
- Pet water bowls
- Kids' toys
- Patio furniture
- Extra potting containers for plants
- Anything that can hold even just a small amount of water.
Storing toys and extra gardening containers in a dry, secure area can cut down on mosquito breeding grounds, in addition to changing the water in pet water bowls and birdbaths daily or by adding a fountain or drip system.
Eliminate water prone areas and repair screens on your property
- Keep gutters clean and adjust downspouts for proper drainage.
- Repair leaky outdoor faucets and any areas in your yard where water tends to puddle.
- Repair or replace window and door screens to help keep mosquitoes out of your home.
Hulett Mosquito Reduction Services
These proactive mosquito prevention tips can help keep mosquitoes from ruining your backyard activities but if mosquitoes are still pestering you, they may be breeding someplace nearby that you can't control or access. DIY methods and materials may help for a while. Most do-it yourself solutions, now that mosquitoes are showing resistance to citronella and DEET and other chemicals, really do not reduce mosquito populations but only mask human scents, it might be time to just call Hulett. Hulett's trained and certified pest control technicians can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in your home and yard. Schedule a free mosquito inspection and we will identify mosquito hiding places and potential breeding grounds. Then, we will treat those areas with a residual product, as well as applying a sticking agent to daytime mosquito resting places. For those special outdoor events, Hulett Mosquito Fogging Services allows you to make the most of your backyard get-togethers and summer celebrations. Using ULV, or ultra-low volume foggers, mosquitoes can't crash your party or cause a scene. Don't suffer from mosquitoes this summer. Protect your family and friends from disease-carrying mosquitoes. Remember the insect repellant, protective clothing and just call Hulett!