Mosquitoes and Life Threatening Diseases: What You Should Know

Aug 11 13:10 2011 Jesse Eaton Print This Article

With the east coast of the United States having one of the wettest springs and summers in a while, mosquitoes have emerged this season as more than a nuisance, they are a health concern. Find out what you need to know about mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry and spread.

What's the world's most dangerous creature? According to the Illinois Department of Health it's the mosquito. Mosquitoes and the diseases they spread have killed more people than all the wars throughout the ages combined

Mosquitoes choose their victims by evaluating exhaled carbon dioxide,Guest Posting by scent and the chemicals in an individual's sweat. Large people are often more attractive to mosquitoes because they're bigger targets and produce more mosquito attractants such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Dark clothing also attracts mosquitoes. In some tests, movement increased mosquito biting up to 50 percent. Interestingly, only female mosquitoes feed on blood.

With the east coast of the United States having one of the wettest springs and summers in a while, mosquitoes have emerged this season as more than a nuisance, they are a health concern.

Mosquitoes Disease Vectors: According to the prestigious Mayo Clinic, mosquitoes transmit at least three human diseases in the United States; West Nile virus, Dengue fever and malaria. All of them are potentially fatal.

Malaria:On rare occasions malaria has occurred in the United States. The Illinois Department of Health reports mosquitoes capable of carrying and transmitting malaria inhabit most parts of the United States. According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture Mosquito Control, endemic Malaria cases have been reported in California, New Jersey and New York.

Encephalitis: It's a much greater threat in the United States than malaria. It's a viral disease which affects the central nervous system, producing fever and can often be fatal.  Encephalitis, meningitis and other diseases can develop from bites from mosquitoes infected with specific viruses such as St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile, LaCrosse (California) encephalitis as well as Eastern equine and Western equine encephalitis.

Dengue fever: This nasty disease in transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. People with Dengue fever, also known as break-bone fever, feel like they have a deep painful itching inside their bones. They feel like there on a roller-coaster ride of hot spells and chills.

The first native cases of dengue fever in the US in over 70 years occurred in Key West Florida in 2009 and it's becoming more common. Dengue fever is regarded as a serious public health threat in Key West and other Florida locations as well as in south Texas and Hawaii. According to an April 2011 article by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the mosquito vectors of the virus are in at least 26 states.

Primary causes of Mosquito populations: Heavy rainfalls and warm temperatures early on this season are the primary causes of the big mosquito population this summer. Standing water is the breeding source of a large number of mosquito species. According to a recently released update on the West Nile Virus by the Entomological Society of America, the combination of a wet winter and a warm and wet spring and summer increases the chance of the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus ranges from a mild disease that goes unnoticed to the deadly variety. When symptoms do occur, they typically show up from 3 to 15 days after a person is attacked by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include: flu-like illness with fever, body aches, headaches, nausea and sometimes a skin rash or swollen lymph glands. Severe symptoms include neck stiffness and high fever. It can also harm the liver. West Nile virus can produce life-threatening nervous system complications such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or meningitis. However, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, less than 1% of people bitten by an infected mosquito become seriously ill.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services department also states there are no specific treatments or vaccine for humans. The department also reports West Nile virus is not spread person to person. However, in rare cases it has been spread via organ transplants, blood transfusions, breast feeding and during pregnancy from mother to baby.

The very young and old and people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women are most at risk. The Illinois Department of Health reports West Nile virus is predominantly transmitted by Culex mosquitoes; medium sized mosquitoes, brown with whitish markings on the abdomen. These include the house mosquitoes which develop in urban areas and the western encephalitis mosquito, more commonly found in rural areas.

The mosquitoes that bite birds and animals infected with West Nile virus ingest the virus and infect animals and humans they bite. However, the Illinois Department of Health reports about 80% of humans develop no symptoms after being infected with West Vile virus.

In July 2011, in Chatham County, located in Georgia, four batches from two midtown locations have tested positive for West Nile virus.

How to Avoid West Nile virus: Obviously the best way to avoid the West Nile virus and other mosquito transmitted disease is to avoid mosquito bites. Wear socks, shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors. Avoid going outdoors when mosquitoes are most active: during dawn and dusk.

The Center for Disease Control recommends using repellents such as DEET, IR 3535, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. The most effective repellents contain DEET. Higher concentrations of DEET increase the length of protection but do not provide a higher level of protection. These products can be placed on skin and clothing.

Bug-repelling clothing and hats treated with permethrin, a safe-for-humans insecticide, discourages insects from landing on and trying to bite through clothing. Consider buying pretreated clothing known as Insect Shield or Bug Shield. People can also treat their clothes with permethrin products.

Mosquitoes breed in any standing water, so clean out drains and gutters, eliminate standing water from pool covers and ditches, get rid of old tires, remove all containers that hold water and remove bird bath water. Remove unneeded vegetation from any standing water that cannot be eliminated.  Also make sure all windows and doors have screens and make sure the screens are in good condition. 

Mosquitoes are more than just nuisance insects. These easy to implement strategies can help keep you and your family safe from mosquito transmitted diseases. Now’s the time to call your pest control professional and get your home and property treated professionally for mosquitoes.

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Jesse Eaton
Jesse Eaton

Jesse Eaton is a member of the pest professional team at ChemTec Pest Control. This New Jersey based pest control firm serves commercial and residential clients. ChemTec Pest Control is located at 186 Saddle River Road, Saddle Brook, NJ. You can reach the bed bug experts at ChemTec Pest Control at (201) 843-0780 or by email at Please visit us on the Web at (

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