There are a lot of mosquitoes in the world. Some estimate that they outnumber humans more than 200 million to one. That's a lot of mosquitoes! Fortunately, not all of those mosquitoes carry human pathogens. Mosquitoes aren't born with these viruses; they acquire them. Usually from wild animals, but they can also pick them up from humans. Let's take a look at the viruses that are most common in the United States, and talk a little bit about how mosquitoes spread those viruses around.
By now, everyone should know what Zika virus is. News agencies all across the country have been giving this virus a lot of play. And for good reason. Zika virus is directly linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, which can lead to many medical complications for the entire life of a child.
This is a disease that claims the lives of over a million people in the world every year. Fortunately, the United States has only seen isolated outbreaks of this virus. 1,500 - 2,000 malaria cases are reported here annually, almost all of them travel-related. While this is a disease that has a catastrophic impact on other countries, we have fewer than 12 documented deaths in the U.S. each year from this virus.
This virus is nicknamed break-bone fever because of the severe pain it can cause. It affects nearly a million people in the world every year and results in over 20,000 deaths. The impacts of dengue on the U.S. is mostly felt in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but outbreaks have occurred within the Continental United States.
While malaria claims more lives worldwide, West Nile is the leading killer here in the United States. In any given year as many as 284 deaths are reported. For this reason, the health agencies have established surveillance programs in areas where this virus has the greatest impact.
Chikungunya virus is a potentially deadly virus that has made an appearance in 47 states. Fortunately, no cases of chikungunya virus in the U.S. have been linked to human mortality. It is, however, an uncomfortable virus to have as it causes joint and muscle pain.
How Do Mosquitoes Spread Viruses?
Male and female mosquitoes primarily eat plant juices, but female mosquitoes draw a blood meal in order to create eggs. When a female draws blood she uses her proboscis. This is a needle-like mouthpart that she uses to pierce the skin in search of a blood vessel from which to get the blood she needs.
The blood is drawn into her midgut. The blood cells are held in the gut and the plasma is expelled. She then uses protein from the blood cells to produce her eggs.
If the female mosquito draws blood from an infected animal or human, she can become a carrier of the disease. Under the right conditions, the virus replicates in the gut, enters into the circulatory system of the mosquito, and travels to the salivary glands, where it can be transmitted when the female goes looking for another blood meal.
In order for a mosquito to transmit a virus, the virus must be able to cause a viremia in the creature the mosquito draws blood from, and it must be able to replicate in the gut of the mosquito. So, not all viruses can be transmitted by mosquito. For instance, influenza, which we commonly refer to as the flu, does not cause a viremia, therefore it is not able to infect a mosquito. AIDS causes a viremia, but it is not able to be replicated in the gut of a mosquito. But there are many viruses that can be spread by mosquitoes, and they are spread through this process.
How Do We Stop The Spread Of Mosquito Viruses?
Mosquito abatement is the leading solution for arresting the spread of mosquito viruses. A typical mosquito does not travel more than 300-500 yards in its entire life. When mosquito control is applied to a yard, it actively destroys mosquitoes that enter that yard. This is because mosquitoes hide from the sun. And, when they hide, they go into the areas where residual pesticides have been sprayed. When mosquitoes are reduced, there are fewer eggs being laid. This leads to fewer mosquitoes that are able to contract and spread disease.
If you need assistance with mosquito abatement for your home or business, and you're in our Tennessee service area, reach out to Russell's Pest Control. Mosquitoes aren't just irritating pests, they are potentially harmful. Protect your family and your pets with mosquito abatement.
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