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How Dangerous Are Mosquitoes?

Many people think of mosquitoes as an annoying interruption to backyard barbeques in the spring and summertime. Yet, more than one million people die from mosquito-borne illnesses each year across the globe, including over 1,000 Americans.

When you consider these numbers, mosquitoes are very deadly creatures. What should you know about these pests?

Mosquitoes Spread Diseases

Sometimes called the “world’s most dangerous animal,” mosquitoes have been known to spread malaria, yellow fever and more recently, the Zika virus.

Zika was discovered in the forests of Uganda in the mid-20th century. Mosquitoes brought it across the Atlantic to other parts of the globe. Prior to 2007, there were only 14 documented cases. Yet from 2015 onward, the infection spread across 24 countries and territories, with mosquitoes being one source.

While mosquitoes are related to flies, their methods for spreading diseases greatly differ. For one, a fly won’t inject its saliva directly into its bite. For this reason, they’ll spread fewer pathogens than mosquitoes, who inject their saliva and come in direct contact with pathogen-filled human blood.

Among humans and animals, mosquitoes are known to spread several potentially fatal diseases:

  • West Nile Virus: Known for flu-like symptoms that progress to muscle weaknesses, stiff neck and disorientation.
  • Encephalitis: Inflammation of the brain that eventually spreads to the central nervous system.
  • Zika Virus: May be correlated with serious birth defects. Symptoms include skin rash, conjunctivitis and fever.
  • Heartworm: Multiplies inside the host – typically a dog or other animal – and spreads through the bloodstream.
  • Chikungunya: Disease with no vaccine that causes headache, rash, fever, joint pain and swelling.
  • Yellow Fever: Tropical-region disease that’s associated with jaundice among its symptoms.

Infection

Even if you are not directly exposed to a disease, the bites themselves can become infected. In extreme reactions, humans and animals may itch uncontrollably, scratching the area to the point the skin breaks and turns into an open wound. The result may require medical treatment and lead to permanent scarring.

Protecting Yourself

Whether you are traveling overseas or simply lounging in your backyard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

  • Using an EPA-registered insect repellent.
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants.
  • Keeping mosquitoes out of your home with screens, running the A/C or using a mosquito net.
  • Avoiding standing water, especially in and around your house.
  • Getting vaccinated for common mosquito-borne illnesses before your travel. Continue avoiding mosquitoes for at least three weeks after you have returned.
  • Seeking immediate attention once you display any common symptoms of mosquito-borne illnesses.

When over-the-counter products fail to work, turn to our team of exterminators at Eliminate ‘Em to get your home’s mosquito infestation under control. To make an appointment, give us a call today.