Do you remember ever worrying about mosquito diseases when you were a kid? Couldn't you get bitten hundreds of times and never get sick? Yes. But that isn't because mosquitoes didn't spread dangerous viruses when you were younger. You can go into the woods right now and get bitten by a hundred mosquitoes and not get sick. That's because not every mosquito that bites you is carrying a human pathogen. And not every species of mosquito can carry every kind of dangerous mosquito-borne virus. Let's take a look at this problem and see what we can learn.
In the United States, the two mosquito species most responsible for the spread of dangerous viruses are the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. That isn't to say that other mosquitoes can't spread illnesses. These are just the two that are considered to be the most medically important. But mosquitoes in the genus Culex, like C. pipiens, C. tarsalis, and C. quinquefasciatus can give those two Aedes mosquitoes a run for their money because Culex mosquitoes are connected to the spread of West Nile virus which claims lives in the United States every year. To make things more complicated (and you're probably thinking that isn't possible) there is an Aedes mosquito that can spread West Nile virus. It is the Aedes atropalpus, otherwise known as a North American rock pool mosquito. Does this all sound difficult to understand? That's only because it is.
What You Really Need To Know About Mosquito Diseases
- Mosquitoes spread diseases. Some of the diseases they are known to spread are West Nile, malaria, chikungunya, yellow fever, Zika virus, dog heartworm, Eastern equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, Jamestown Canyon virus, and Western equine encephalitis.
- Mosquito diseases can be spread by mechanical transmission or biological transmission. Mechanical transmission is when mosquitoes transport harmful organisms on their feet, body, or mouthparts. A common mechanical illness is dysentery. Biological transmission is when a mosquito incubates a disease inside its body. Examples of biological diseases are the diseases listed above.
- Some mosquito diseases, like Zika virus, are not local in the United States. That is to say that there is no local reservoir to allow this disease to make it through the winter. Mosquitoes only live for about 2 months maximum. With diseases like Zika, a local reservoir is needed in order to pick the disease up again in spring. Most cases of Zika have been travel cases, where humans have brought the disease into the country. Once in the country, local transmission is considered an outbreak, until a local reservoir is found. There is currently no local reservoir for Zika virus.
- Some mosquito-borne diseases are spread through transovarial transmission. This is when a disease is spread to offspring through eggs. With these diseases, mosquitoes are the vector and the reservoir.
- Any mosquito that bites you can have a pathogen and a mosquito doesn't have to bite you to spread a contagion mechanically.
- Mosquitoes are considered to be the most dangerous animal on the planet but most deaths are in 3rd world countries where sanitation is poor, availability of medical treatment is restricted, and pest control is limited.
- Most mosquito bites will not result in anything more than an irritating red bump.
The threat of mosquitoes is a complex one. There are many ways a mosquito can make us and our pets sick. The solution is to reduce mosquitoes in our yards. This can be accomplished with a mosquito abatement service from a licensed professional. Mosquito abatement eliminates adult mosquitoes hiding in your yard and prevents mosquitoes from developing in breeding locations.
At Action Pest Control, we offer a seasonal mosquito control program that works to reduce mosquito populations throughout the mosquito season and also a one-time service that is perfect for getting your backyard ready ahead of graduation, family reunion, wedding reception, birthday, bar mitzvah, or some other important outdoor event.
Whether you enjoy relaxing near the pool, spending time around a fire pit, cooking food on the grill, or some other outdoor activity, everything you do in your backyard is better without mosquitoes.
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