The U.S. has been battling mosquito viruses for some time now, and we’ve come up with all kinds of ways to fight. Viruses like malaria, West Nile, chikungunya, and yellow fever claim the lives of 1 million people every year according to the World Health Organization. But here in America, we’ve been successful at keeping the death toll down below a mere hundred. This is due to several factors such as the use of DDT back in the 1950s, widespread mosquito abatement, early warning systems, and the immediate availability of medical services. But the Zika virus, which is spreading at alarming rates through Central and South America, has our government on high alert. It has even prompted the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, to declare a state of emergency in four counties where people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus.
Why the fear? Because, although at this moment there is no evidence that this virus is being spread through local mosquito populations, it could start at any time. And, Zika virus has been directly connected to microcephaly, a congenital condition in newborns that is characterized by an abnormal smallness of the head and incomplete brain development. Not only is there no vaccine, but it has also been discovered recently that Zika can damage babies at ALL stages of pregnancy. For a country that has done so well to fight mosquito-borne viruses, an outbreak of Zika could spread panic.
The good news is the U.S. government has begun a program, with the aid of American Pest, to create mosquito trapping programs to study seasonal trends of mosquito populations and the diseases they transmit, including the Zika virus. These surveillance sites are vital in tracking disease vectors and the potential threat to human populations.
It is important to understand that, as of this writing, Zika has only been found in travelers who have recently been to countries where Zika is widespread. Government health departments are watching this virus closely and will inform news agencies when the virus is found to be spreading locally. But, be aware that Zika often shows no symptoms. That means it may spread a great distance before it is detected by health authorities. That is why it is vital to take extra measures to prevent mosquito bites, especially if you are pregnant.
Top Mosquito Prevention Tips
Repellents are still the most effective method of preventing bites. Be sure to choose a repellent that has DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
When going out, be sure to wear long sleeves and pants when possible.
For added protection, spray repellent on your clothing. Mosquitoes can get their needles through some fabrics.
Be aware that mosquitoes can come up under your shirt and under your pant legs to bite. Tuck clothes in if mosquitoes are particularly bad.
Avoid being out at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Wearing light colored clothing can reduce bites. Mosquitoes use silhouettes to zero in on their target. The darker the silhouette, the better for them.
Be aware that an open door is an invitation for mosquitoes to get inside.
Window and door screens are the first line of defense for your home. Do routine inspections to make sure you don’t have any holes, and patch holes when you find them.
A good breeze is a great way to keep mosquitoes away. If nature has not provided one for your backyard, it is a good idea to create an artificial one. Place fans where you intend to sit, lounge, or lay in the sun. Mosquitoes are terrible fliers and will avoid areas where wind is strong.
If you’re thinking about getting a bug zapper for those mosquitoes, you might want to think again. Studies have shown that while zappers will lure mosquitoes onto your property, they are only effective at killing male mosquitoes. Since it is the female that draws blood and spreads viruses, all you’ll have is a mosquito magnet.
When traveling to other countries or camping in the woods, be sure to use a net to protect yourself while you’re sleeping. There are also many wearable items made with mosquito netting. These are great if you have to mow the lawn or you intend to be in an area that is heavily populated with mosquitoes, like a swamp.
Make your yard less inviting to these pests. Mosquitoes need standing water to breed and bushes to hide in from the afternoon sun. If you have an obstructed gutter, water collecting in yard clutter, standing water in bird baths, or some other kind of stagnant water source, you’ll have more mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes lay eggs in your lawn. Lots of them. That is why you’ll notice a lot more mosquitoes after it rains, and why it is important to have routine treatments from a pest controller.
If you need help with mosquito control around your home or business, American Pest can help. Our certified team of educated professionals is not only the pest control company our government depends on for vital research, we are also the company residents and business owners in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and D.C. rely on for effective pest protection. Together, we can protect our nation and our communities from mosquito-borne viruses.