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How Do Mosquitoes Spread Viruses?

August 8, 2016


mosquito biting an indiana resident

The topic of mosquito viruses is a complex one. We all know that mosquitoes can spread dangerous viruses here in the United States such as West Nile, chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, and more. But with the threat of a new virus called Zika, lawmakers in Washington are asking, "How do mosquitoes spread viruses?" and, more importantly, "How do we protect ourselves?" Here are a few things we know for sure.

Not all mosquitoes spread viruses. This has created some misconceptions as to how dangerous these insects are. We've probably all come back from camping with a dozen or more mosquito bites and no dangerous diseases--at least--none that we were aware of. So we have to wonder if mosquitoes are really a threat. Let us assure you; they are. Mosquitoes borne viruses kill over a million people in the world each year. While we are fortunate to have significantly fewer deaths here in the United States, due to a strong health care support system and widespread mosquito reduction, people still die every year these viruses and diseases.

Viruses don't always cause symptoms that are severe enough for someone to report it to a doctor. The Zika virus only produces symptoms in 20% of the people who are infected. This may seem like good news, but it is actually not. Those who contract the disease become carriers, and are able to transmit it to mosquitoes. Currently, all cases of Zika in the U.S. are related to people traveling to the states from other countries where Zika is rampant. But all it takes is the wrong mosquito to bite the wrong person, and we could have a widespread outbreak.

Many mosquito-borne viruses don't just live in people and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can give them to animals, and animals can give them back to mosquitoes. This is how viruses like West Nile have become locally transmitted diseases here in the states. If this happens with Zika, it could become a serious threat.

Protecting ourselves from mosquitoes begins with understanding that these insects are a threat. The diseases they carry can have lifelong implications. So it is vital to take measures to stop them.

These are the suggestions the Center for Disease Control (CDC) gives to reduce the chances of mosquito-borne diseases.

  • If you are pregnant, avoid traveling to any area where Zika virus is spread.

  • Pregnant women and their male partners should seek advice from a doctor if travel to these areas is necessary.

  • When going outside, use a mosquito repellent with DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or a natural oil of lemon eucalyptus. If you have concerns about putting these on your skin, spray them on your clothing.

  • Wear pants and shirts with long sleeves when possible.

  • Stay inside places that have air conditioning and proper screens on doors and windows.

  • Reduce breeding sites on your property.

If you live in Louisville, or anywhere in our extensive coverage area of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, Action Pest Control can assist you with controlling breeding sites, eggs, and active mosquitoes on your property. Mosquitoes are a threat we should all take seriously, and mosquito reduction services are the front line defense against the spread of these viruses. Contact us and get your protection in place today.




 

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