Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes
As the weather warms up in the Carolinas, it sometimes seems that mosquitoes are everywhere. Most people consider mosquitoes bothersome, but they can be dangerous. Mosquitoes can carry and transmit a number of diseases to humans and animals, including West Nile virus, malaria, several forms of encephalitis, and other diseases that are less common in the United States, like dengue fever and chikungunya. Some of these diseases may cause serious complications or be deadly. Dogs and cats may also be at risk, as mosquitoes transmit heartworms.
By some estimates, there are more than 2,500 different types of mosquitoes around the world, with around 150 of them found in the U.S. Male mosquitoes feed on the nectar of plants, while females feed on the blood of mammals, birds and reptiles. Male mosquitoes live an average of seven days, while females live around 30 days. Only a small number of species cause most of the problems we see with diseases and even fewer are carrying these transmittable diseases. It’s still good to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Here are some tips to help you avoid mosquito bites:
- Use mosquito repellant containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus. This is especially important if you’ll be outside between dusk and dawn since this is when the mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus are most active. Note that some of the natural repellants need frequent re-application and do not offer the same amount of protection as DEET.
- Wear pants and long sleeves, especially if you’ll be working or playing in wooded areas.
- Remove sources of standing water on your property. Mosquitoes require standing water to lay and hatch eggs, though specific environments may differ by species. On average, mosquito eggs hatch in around 10 days, so if you have areas of standing water in your yard, you should dump them out frequently.
- Make sure windows and doors you plan to leave open have screens.
- Talk to your vet about heartworm prevention drugs for your dogs and cats.
- Get more information from your pest care professional on mosquito prevention and treatment programs.
Another word of warning: if you will be traveling internationally, do some research ahead of time about the risks of mosquito-borne illness in the areas you will be visiting, and take precautions while you are there. If you become ill or show any unusual symptoms after you’ve returned home, call your doctor and make certain he or she knows you have been out of the U.S.
If you would like to learn more about keeping the mosquito population in check around your home, please speak with your Clegg’s technician or give us a call today.