Now that the weather is getting warmer, many people have been noticing the return of those pesky mosquitoes. However, while the colder weather has kept them at bay so far across most of the US, mosquitoes have still been causing major health problems in our warmer climates. Keep reading to find out more about these threats, and what the experts are saying about them for the upcoming season.
Chikungunya Virus Update
The mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus is still running rampant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 10,000 cases of the disease reported since it was first discovered here in May 2014.
This virus is required to be reported by local and state health departments, as it has been classified as a nationally notifiable disease. As of early May, 26 states in the US have already reported a total of 126 new cases of the virus from people who have travelled to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which brings the total to 1,100 cases. However, there have been no cases reported due to local transmission at this time.
The Chikungunya virus causes a painful condition in which the muscles and joints suffer from severe pain. In some cases, it has also caused the joints to have pain that is similar to arthritis for several months after being infected. Worldwide, there have been over 776,000 people infected with this virus, all from those who have travelled to tropical locales, where the virus is most prevalent in mosquitos.
West Nile Virus
The West Nile virus is still going strong, although not on the scale that it was when the outbreak first hit the US. In 2003, which was the worst year for the virus, around 7,000 people were infected with it, and 32 died because of their infections.
The spread of West Nile is still somewhat sporadic – some years there are major outbreaks in some areas, while there may be few to no cases the next. Scientists are still trying to determine the key factors that indicate the threat for a given period and location.
The major issue with determining these factors is that it first infects birds, which pass it to the mosquitos that spread it to humans. Historically, West Nile has been found in all 50 states, Mexico and Canada, where it has killed over 1,600 people, and infected around 40,000 others.
Experts do not feel that the Chikungunya virus will ever reach the sheer number that it had in tropical regions in the United States. However, anyone who lives in or travels to areas of warmer weather need to make sure they are taking all precautions while traveling. These include:
- Wearing protective clothing with long pants and sleeves
- Ensuring all clothing and exposed skin are treated with proper insect repellants, such as those containing DEET, IR3535, or picaridin
- Only stay in hotels with working air conditioning and screens in the doors and windows
- Heed all travelers warnings if there are increases in mosquito populations or Chikungunya outbreaks
Officials in the United States still consider West Nile to be a significant threat to the elderly and those with weak immune systems. There are universities working on potential vaccines, but until those are approved, proper precautions such as insect repellent, long sleeves and pants, and avoiding areas with heavy mosquito populations, are still the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones protected from this deadly virus.
Scientists are also studying the effects of heat and rain each season to determine the key indicators of a strong West Nile season versus one with less threat of the disease. We’ve had a wet spring so far, but our biggest issue with that in the short-term is eliminating standing water to discourage mosquito habitats near homes. The experts at Fischer Environmental are here to help local homeowners in the event of a mosquito invasion, or any other pest problem. Give us a call today!
Filed in: Mosquito Control