It’s best to prepare when sharing the great outdoors with insects. Mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika, West Nile, and malaria are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Some may have a mild, short-term illness, while others may have severe or long-term illness. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass Zika to their fetus, which can cause certain birth defects.
Mosquito-borne diseases are mostly prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions, which means these diseases are often common in North America. Brad Parker says, “Prior to traveling abroad, it is always a good idea to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for travel health notices.” This can benefit you by providing more information on all diseases, mosquito-borne and otherwise, so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent them before traveling. Whether you’re staying at home or traveling abroad, the CDC states that prevention is the best way to avoid getting sick from viruses spread by mosquitoes. Here are some ways you can prevent mosquito bites and mosquito-borne illness:
- Don’t keep free-standing water around your house or in your backyard. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.
- Keep gutters clear of debris and standing water.
- Remove standing water around structures and from flat roofs.
- Change water in pet dishes daily.
- Rinse and scrub vases and other indoor water containers weekly.
- Change water in wading pools and bird baths several times a week.
- Use mosquito dunks with larvicide for water that can’t be emptied or covered.
- Keep backyard pools and hot tubs properly chlorinated and free of debris.
- Cover trash containers.
- Water lawns and gardens carefully so water does not stand for several days.
- Screen rain barrels and openings to water tanks or cisterns.
- Treat front and back door areas of homes with residual insecticides if mosquitoes are abundant nearby.
- If mosquito problems persist, consider pesticide applications for vegetation around the home.
- Make sure windows and doors are closed tightly. If not, you are opening your home for mosquitos to enter and possibly bite you.
- If you are going to any area that has a high prevalence of mosquitoes, be sure to wear long sleeves, pants, and shoes with socks.
- Use insect repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using insect repellents such as DEET.
Most people don’t get sick or have only mild symptoms after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Rarely, however, mosquito-borne diseases can cause serious problems, such as encephalitis, the swelling of the brain. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
Seven Freaky Facts About Mosquitos
- Only female mosquitoes bite. Male mosquitos feast on plants, but females need blood before they can lay their eggs.
- There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitos, but only a couple hundred feast on human blood.
- Female mosquitoes’ saliva induces an allergic response in her victims’ immune system. This is why an itchy bump appears on the skin.
- When temperatures are the hottest, insects rest in cooler spots. This is a good time to avoid mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, lactic acid and octenol found in human breath and sweat.
- Malaria infects nearly 250 million people each year worldwide.
- Birds were originally blamed for the spread of the West Nile Virus across the United States. However, a 2010 study says that it was the mosquitoes, which can travel up to 2.5 miles per day.
While Parker Law Firm doesn’t handle lawsuits related mosquito-borne illnesses, we hope this blog is helpful to you and your loved ones this summer and can help give you some tips on how to steer clear from pesky mosquitos. We hope you have a great summer!