MOSQUITOES- The Latest “Buzz” About West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes kill millions of humans each year by infecting them with diseases like malaria, yellow fever and encephalitis viruses.  Their bites sometimes make it impossible to enjoy a walk, a ball game, a camping trip or a simple evening outdoors.  They can have a negative impact on tourist or outdoor-related business, lower property values, and harm, infect or even kill domestic animals and pets.

 West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne illness with fever, headache, muscular pain, and rash (mainly in young children).  Usually mild but serious complications of the liver or nervous system (e.g. encephalitis) can occur especially in the very young or elderly.  The WNV strain in the U.S. to date has caused death only in older people (50 to 70+ years) or those with immune system disorders.  About 20% of infected persons in the U.S. develop symptoms, and only one-in 150 will develop serious medical conditions that require hospital care.  Birds, mainly crows and various songbirds, are the primary reservoirs of WNV.  Some birds (e.g. crows and jays) are often killed by WNV but some migratory species seem to be only mildly affected and may help spread, or reintroduce, WNV during seasonal migrations.

 Encephalitis viruses, like WNV, are picked up from and infected reservoir host by a female mosquito when she takes a blood meal.  In the U.S., mainly the Northern House Mosquito or the Southern House Mosquito and Asian Tiger Mosquitoes can also transmit WNV.  These species breed in containers, drains, stagnant pools or other standing water near our homes.  Mosquitoes can best be controlled using an integrated approach, combining practical available techniques and tools to eliminate target populations of vectors or pests, or reduce their numbers or humans’ exposure to pre-determined acceptable levels.  That means at least: surveying sites thoroughly; eliminating or treating all larval breeding habitats; eliminating (or periodically applying residual insecticides to) adult resting sites; monitoring mosquito populations (by at least one surveillance method) throughout their activity season; and educating all people involved.

 We can provide background information about the most important local mosquitoes, current surveillance results, current and planned mosquito control efforts, information about prevention actions and personal protection, and contact points for available public health information and resources.  We can implement several control strategies to help reduce the local mosquito population and related biting, and can help you with surveillance and source reduction functions, too.  If you need help with your own local mosquito problem, contact ProTech Termite and Pest Control.  We can come out, evaluate the situation, and usually begin to help reduce the problem right away.  Not every mosquito problem has an easy, quick, or long-term solution but we have the training, knowledge, information resources, and tools to help you solve mosquito problems.