When it comes to mosquito bites, you probably already know that these buggers can carry infectious diseases. But do you know what they are, and how serious they can be?
Let’s look at which mosquito-borne illnesses might affect your family and how you can prevent these bug bites while outside enjoying your landscape.
West Nile Virus
While malaria is the most common mosquito-borne illness in the world, the West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-related diseases in the US, according to the CDC. The bugs contract the virus by feeding on infected birds, and pass it onto us through their bites— right in our backyards.
West Nile disease is hard to catch because eight out of ten people don’t show any symptoms. Only one in five experience headaches, body aches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, and only one out of 150 develops a serious illness.
Despite the likelihood of the condition becoming major or fatal, severe cases require hospitalization. Symptoms usually last a few days, but resulting encephalitis or meningitis can linger for weeks or months.
Prevent this mosquito bite disease: Unfortunately, no vaccine or specific antiviral treatments are available for preventing or treating the West Nile virus. Why? Well, we can’t be taking special medication all summer long (like those international travelers do for short trips to avoid catching malaria), so the best way to avoid contracting it to follow our mosquito bite prevention advice at the end of this article!
While your chance of developing malaria from a mosquito bite at home in Massachusetts is slim, those traveling abroad are another story.
Malaria occurs in Africa, Central and South America, parts of the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 1,700 cases of US travelers returning with the disease are documented each year— five of which die.
Those who contract this mosquito-borne illness usually see symptoms within 7-30 days, but they can take up to a year to develop. The illness mimics the flu, with high fevers, shaking chills, etc. and can be extremely dangerous!
Prevent this mosquito bite disease: Like West Nile, here’s no vaccine out there that can protect you against malaria. The best way to avoid contracting it when traveling internationally is to take antimalarial medication. Even then, these medications only reduce your risk by about 90%, so check out our tips further down for preventing mosquito bites.
What About the Zika Virus? Dengue? Yellow Fever?
You’re right! Mosquitoes can carry more than just malaria and the West Nile virus. That being said, many other common mosquito-borne illnesses aren’t a huge concern for those living in the New England region.
There were reports of the Zika virus spread by mosquitoes in the US in 2016-17. Fortunately, there haven’t been any reported cases since, according to the CDC.
Dengue is another disease carried by mosquitoes which sometimes affects us in the United States. Outbreaks did occur in Hawaii (2015), Florida (2013) and Texas (2013), but most cases are limited to those local areas and quickly contained.
The Yellow Fever virus is found mostly in Africa and South America and rarely contracted by US travelers. It’s less common than malaria, but still a disease to be mindful of when traveling out of the country.
Protect Yourself From Mosquito-Borne Illnesses by Preventing Bites
The best way to avoid contracting a disease carried by mosquitoes is to avoid being around or bitten by the pests in the first place.
Here are a few tips to stay bite-free:
- Wear citronella, soybean or eucalyptus oils. We wrote an article specially dedicated to natural mosquito repellants, where we link to the scientific studies to prove their effectiveness. Wearing these oils can keep the winged creatures from biting you for 1.5-2 hours. In the blog, we discuss why thought-to-be repellants like citronella candles don’t actually work as well, so be sure to check it out.
- Turn on a fan. Mosquitos only weigh between 2.5-10 milligrams. Winds can make it hard for these little pests to fly. Plus, the breeze can throw off their infrared senses and shoo them away.
- Keep your skin covered. The NHS cautions against wearing shorts when hiking or lingering outdoors. Instead, wear light and loose-fitted pants and long-sleeves, which are harder for mosquitoes to bite through.
- Watch out during the early morning or evening hours. This is prime feeding time for mosquitoes, so be extra cautious during these windows.
- Keep your landscape water clean! Mosquitoes love stagnant water, so be sure to unclog your roof gutters, change your birdbaths and fill divots in your yard. Have an old wheelbarrow full of water behind your shed? You can be sure they are breeding there. Eliminate any standing water around your property.
Ward Off Mosquitoes at Home
Not only can mosquitoes carry dangerous and deadly diseases, but their bites can easily become itchy, inflamed and uncomfortable.
While natural solutions can prevent them from biting, they often only do just that: ward of biting. They do little to keep the bloodsuckers away from your yard, and when they wear off, they can’t protect you!
Keep mosquitoes off your property with a proper mosquito repellant treatment. Our team at Green Sphere can apply a solution that’s safe for your family and pets, that’ll repel the pests from your landscape.
Give us a call at (855)-391-1343 or fill out this form to have your property treated today.