Archive for category Mosquito-Borne Illnesses & Diseases

New Ways to Find Standing Water

Happy New Year everyone! All of us at Mosquito Squad want to wish you a great 2015.

The Squad is excited for 2015 and to helping our clients fight the bite at home. As always, we’re trying to stay abreast of what’s happening with mosquitoes, ticks and the diseases they carry and a new article from Florida recently caught our attention.

In the mosquito control world, standing water is a big nemesis. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. If the water is circulating or moving, the eggs cannot mature and develop into pests that bite. Florida, which has a lot of mosquitoes, is looking for new ways to locate standing water and they think they’ve found it: drones.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District plans to use two drones this year in the search for standing water. The drones’ planned flight paths stay away from all airports but can survey remote areas that may otherwise be unseen. With the location of standing water, the municipality can go out and treat the standing water with larvicide and growth regulators.

The Federal Aviation Administration authorized the use of drones for this purpose.

We’re excited to see what comes of this new tool and development. We’re always on the looking out for standing water while treating our clients’ properties for mosquitoes and ticks. We’ll treat any areas that we feel are causing the mosquito population to increase on the property, but we know that mosquitoes can come from other properties, commercial, municipal or residential. If the drones work well, it could be a great way for cities and counties to be more proactive with their mosquito abatement programs.

Reducing the amount of standing water in your yard is the first step in reducing your mosquito population (one impacts the other), that’s why we came up with the 5Ts. The Ts will help you to look for and remove the standing water on your property. Just take a look at this to see what we mean:

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World Health Organization Reports Decline in Malaria Deaths

Mosquito Squad has been a proud supporter of Malaria No More for years. Their goal sounds simple: end malaria deaths, but much goes into it. Hundreds of thousands of people, primarily children, die from malaria each year.

But, there’s good news.

Photo Credit: Malaria No More

Photo Credit: Malaria No More

Yesterday, the World Health Organization published its 2014 World Malaria Report and report that there has been a 58% decline in the number of child deaths from malaria in Africa!

We can see the dedication working! More and more women and children have access to bed nets and treatment than ever before. But, the work isn’t done yet. There were still over 400,000 children that died of malaria last year in Africa.

Malaria No More and Mosquito Squad are committed to the fight against malaria not just in Africa, but worldwide. This holiday season, please donate to the cause at SwatMalaria.net.

As educational and medical help continues, here are some of the new innovations Malaria No More is supporting:

  • A malaria test that can detect malaria even if the patient isn’t displaying symptoms,
  • Better medication that can fight the disease more quickly, hopefully with just one pill,
  • More and better technology to help African clinics manage test and treatment stocks and predict outbreaks,
  • And vaccines that prevent humans from contracting malaria when bitten by an infected mosquito.

Ending malaria deaths may seem like a lofty goal, but it is entirely possible to see a world without malaria deals in our lifetime. It is both preventable and treatable. Experts were able to attack malaria and eradicate it from the United States in just a few years back in the 1940s and 50s. The Center for Disease Control was actually first created to address the growing issue of malaria in the US and now, we don’t worry about it here.

If you want to join in the fight and be part of the legacy of ending malaria deaths, please donate now to SwatMalaria.net.

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Bill Gates Makes Stand for Malaria Eradication

Bill Gates has long been a supporter of malaria eradication and research, but in a recent speech at Association of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene he once again brought it back into the spotlight.

Melinda and Bill Gates made their first call for malaria eradication 7 years ago alongside the World Health Organization. Since then, the Gates Foundation has made large donations to help the cause while spreading the word through speeches, blogs, etc. (don’t you remember when Gates released mosquitoes during a speech in 2009?).

While Gates addressed ebola (which is on everyone’s mind) in his speech at ASTMH, the majority of his time was spent discussing malaria because of his hope for the future. He explains in his blog that “based on the progress I’m seeing in the lab and on the ground, I believe we’re now in a position to eradicate malaria – that is, wipe it out completely in every country – within a generation.” Source.

Because of their optimism, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation is increasing its donation to the malaria cause by 30%.

What many people don’t realize, is that malaria was an issue in the majority of the world not too long ago. It wasn’t eradicated from the United States until the 1950s, and that is without the knowledge and science that we have now. This video from Bill Gates’ blog is a great representation of where the disease was, where it is now, and where we’re going:

Mosquito Squad is a proud supporter of Malaria No More. We’re dedicated to seeing an end to malaria deaths and we’re seeing great progress. In the four short years we’re partnered with Malaria No More, we’ve seen the number of deaths in Africa decrease by 50%!

Malaria No More helps fight malaria by providing prevention, treatment and education to the areas of Africa most affected by this disease. Please help us in the fight by donating to Malaria No More at SwatMalaria.net.

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Do Mosquitoes Transmit Ebola?

Unless you’ve stayed away from all news for the last few weeks (and who really can do that), you’ve heard about the current Ebola epidemic in Africa and cases in the U.S. Ebola is a life threatening disease that currently doesn’t have a vaccine to fight it. One question we’ve been asked recently is can mosquitoes, who transmit numerous disease worldwide, infect people with Ebola?

In short, the answer is no.

2bMosquitoes aren’t born with malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, dengue fever or other mosquito-borne disease. Female mosquitoes become carriers of those diseases after feeding on a person or animal already infected (only females suck blood). Because mosquitoes don’t go person to person biting, the disease has to survive a complicated digestion process to be passed on.

The reason female mosquitoes require blood is to create eggs. A female mosquito will take in enough blood to properly nourish her eggs and then go and digest. After laying her eggs, she will then require more blood. For her to infect a human with the disease, the viral strands need to stay in the gut and migrate into the mosquito’s saliva. The mosquito injects saliva into its victims as they bite. In the case of malaria, it evolves in the mosquito before getting into the saliva.

Right now, Ebola cannot make its way into the mosquito saliva. And until it can, mosquitoes cannot transmit Ebola.

Despite not playing an active role in the spread of Ebola, mosquitoes are still the most dangerous animal on the planet, killing over 700,000 people each year. They kill approximately 600,000 by infecting them with malaria. While malaria isn’t a threat in the United States, mosquitoes still transmit west nile, dengue fever and chikungunya domestically.

At Mosquito Squad, we protect our clients by greatly reducing their property’s mosquito population with our mosquito control services. Our trained applicators visit our clients’ properties every 2-3 weeks and spray the areas where mosquitoes are most likely to feed and live, like bushes and trees. The spray eliminates mosquitoes on contact as well as settles on the vegetation. When a mosquito then goes to feed on a leaf, it will ingest the product.

If you have questions on how to protect your property from mosquitoes, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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A Robot that Fights Malaria?

Malaria, as we’ve discussed before, is a terrible mosquito-borne disease that kills over 600,000 people every year, yet it is both preventable and treatable. While health officials and non-profits like Malaria No More are helping to fight the battle against malaria, a Dallas tween is doing the same thing with a new invention.

An underwater army of Culex larvae, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

An underwater army of Culex mosquito larvae, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

David Cohen is a Texas based 12 year old who is a finalist in this year’s Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a robot that helps fight malaria.

Mosquitoes (whether they are carrying malaria or not) need water to breed. During their larval stage, they sit on the surface of the water to breathe and to continue the maturation process. Cohen’s robot stops them from further maturing by reaching them in this stage. Using a pump-jet system, the robot essentially drowns the mosquito by moving it away from the surface and trapping it under mesh.

Cohen first became aware of health issues that mosquitoes can cause after his sister had a staph infection after itching a mosquito bite.

Matched with his mentor Delong Langer-Anderson, Cohen began to look at how best to stop mosquito-borne illnesses from spreading. As Langer-Anderson explains: he “looked at the problem…in a different way. He asked ‘what if the mosquito was never born?’ …he’s never lost sight of the idea that if he can stop the mosquito from emerging from the larvae stage, he can prevent them from spreading disease.” Source.

Dread Skeeter and the whole Mosquito Squad is happy to support Malaria No More in their fight to end malaria deaths in Africa

Dread Skeeter and the whole Mosquito Squad is happy to support Malaria No More in their fight to end malaria deaths in Africa

While we’re not sure how Cohen’s robot will be used moving forward, we at Mosquito Squad are always happy to see people thinking up unique ways to decrease the spread of malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Congrats David!

Mosquito Squad joined the fight against malaria several years ago through our partnership with Malaria No More. Malaria No More has made great strides in helping to end malaria deaths through its educational, prevention and treatment programs.

If you’d like us to help fight malaria, please donate now at SwatMalaria.net.

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New Mosquito Species Enters US

From time to time we see the news of a new animal or bug entering the U.S. Some don’t thrive well in our eco-system and habitat while others, like the stink bug, blossom in the new conditions. When it comes to mosquitoes, we’ve seen that a large number of species can thrive in the states and we’re now watching a new one: the Aussie Mozzie.

mosquito controlThe Aedes notoscriptus is an Australian mosquito species with the nickname the Aussie Mozzie. It was found in the Los Angeles area of California in June, its first ever spotting in the United States. As the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District’s spokesman Jason Farned explains: “in Australia this mosquito is very widespread and capable of transmitting several viruses.” Source.

The Aussie Mozzie is described to have similar characteristics as the Asian tiger mosquito. The Asian tiger mosquito received notable attention a few years ago as its population boomed. Both the Asian tiger and Aussie Mozzie are most likely to bite during the day (most mosquitoes bite around dusk and dawn). They are known city dwellers that lay their eggs in containers.

Like many other mosquito species, the Aussie Mozzie infects humans and animals with disease including the Barmah Forest and Ross River viruses. Both viruses can be serious, but are non-lethal. Their symptoms include joint pain, rashes and fever.

In addition to transmitting mosquito-borne disease to humans, the Aussie Mozzie also infects dogs with heartworm. Heartworm is one of the most serious illnesses a dog can face. Heartworm is a parasite that settles and grows in the heart and lungs of its host, most commonly the dog. Dogs with heartworm may display symptoms through coughing, exhaustion, weight loss and fainting. Once diagnosed, dogs have to through a series of treatments to kill and get rid of the heartworm that could take several months.

Currently only a few Aussie Mozzies have been confirmed in California. Homeowners in the areas have been encouraged to report any day biting mosquitoes so they can be tested. As the mosquito control experts, we at Mosquito Squad will stay on top of the news and let you know everything there is to share.

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Number of West Nile Cases Beginning to Rise

Over the last few weeks we’ve heard a lot about the chikungunya virus as more and more cases are diagnosed here in the United States. Although this new disease is dangerous and painful, other mosquito-borne diseases are still present. In particular, we’re headed into the peak of West Nile Virus season.

1aMosquitoes have been testing positive for West Nile for the last few months and now more and more human cases are being confirmed from California to Pennsylvania. Just this week a Texas man died with West Nile being reported as a contributing factor. Additionally mosquito spraying is being conducted in Montgomery County, Texas as a result.

The first US outbreak of the West Nile Virus occurred back in 1999 in New York. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control have been monitoring and reporting on the disease. Unlike chikungunya, the majority of West Nile patients are infected domestically (chikungunya victims are normally infected while travelling). 2012 brought the highest number of cases since the mosquito-borne disease since it began being tracked in the US with over 5,000 cases (just over 2,400 were reported in 2013).

No MosquitoesUnfortunately, there is no vaccine or cure for West Nile Virus. The vast majority of infected people will never even display symptoms, but when they do, they can be difficult. High fever, nausea, and aching are just some of the common symptoms of the disease. It tends to affect the young and old more dramatically.

At Mosquito Squad, we always say that the best way to protect yourself from mosquito-transmitted disease is to limit your exposure to mosquitoes. Reducing your property’s mosquito population is the first step. You can do that by ridding your yard of any standing water and hiring a professional mosquito control company. Our mosquito elimination services are reapplied every 2-3 weeks to the foliage where mosquitoes are known to feed and live.

When venturing out into non-treated areas, you’ll need to take additional precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Consider wearing loose long-sleeved shirts and pants and apply a DEET spray to the uncovered areas of the skin.

If you have questions on mosquito control, please give you nearest Mosquito Squad location a call. We’re happy to answer any questions.

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