Posts Tagged dengue fever

Vector-borne disease apparent early in 2014 season

At Mosquito Squad, we pride ourselves on protecting our clients from the annoyance and dangers of mosquitoes and ticks.  As the weather continues to warm up, we’ve seen an influx of requests for tick and mosquito control for the yard. And with news across the country of vector-borne disease, it is no surprise people are looking for ways to keep the bugs at bay.

kill mosquitos and ticks at commercial venuesJust last week, we discussed Chikungunya having been found in Florida and now new reports of dengue in the area have locals concerned over an outbreak. Dengue fever is a virus transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Symptoms of dengue include rash, fever and muscle and joint pain. While there is no specific medication for dengue, patients that are able to stay hydrated are able to fight the disease successfully.

While Florida is being hit by these tropical mosquito-borne disease, early mosquito and bird tests in Illinois are positive for West Nile in the area. Many municipalities across the country catch and test mosquitoes. It not only helps them gauge how much municipal spraying is needed, but it also lets them know if mosquitoes carrying certain bacteria are present.

With an increase of ticks in many areas of the country, officials are concerned about the growing numbers of Lyme disease as well.  From Michigan to Virginia to Vermont, local health officials are warning residents to be vigilant and take precautionary measures when spending outside in areas where ticks are known to be active.

Reducing your exposure to mosquitoes and ticks is the best way prevent vector-borne disease. At Mosquito Squad, we use a combination of mosquito spraying and tick tubes to cut down on the pest population on the property. Having continuous outdoor pest control, normally applied every 2-3 weeks, during the busy mosquito and tick months will reduce your mosquito population by 85-90%!

If you have questions on how to protect yourself from vector-borne disease, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Centers for Disease Control Warn Travelers of Chikungunya

Mosquito-borne diseases are present in any area of the country and world where mosquitoes are active. While the diseases they carry are different depending on the areas of the world, many of them are dangerous and debilitating. Earlier this week, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) issued a warning against a painful mosquito-borne illness for any U.S. travelers to the Caribbean.

Ten people in the Caribbean have recently been diagnosed with Chikungunya virus. The CDC says it is “very likely” to end up in the United States. As CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden explains, “Microbes know no boundaries, and the appearance of chikungunya virus in the Western hemisphere represents another threat to health security. CDC experts have predicted and prepared for its arrival for several years and there are surveillance systems in place to help us track it.” Source.

Asian Tiger mosquito stripes on legs

Asian Tiger mosquito stripes on legs. These pests are carriers of the painful chikungunya virus.

The Asian tiger mosquito is a common carrier of Chikungunya. The tiger mosquito is easily recognizable by the black and white stripes on their legs.

Chikungunya symptoms can take days to display after being infected with the disease. Symptoms of the disease are very similar to those of dengue fever including a high fever, rash, headache, nausea and severe joint pain. The name Chikungunya comes from the Mankonde language and means, “that which bends up” because it can be very painful.

Chikungunya was first found in Africa but has been moving into Asia and Europe and now the Caribbean in recent years. So far there have been 109 travelers who have been diagnosed with Chikungunya in the United States and luckily it hasn’t spread since there.

With winter holidays and travel in full swing, the CDC issued a statement of warning: the “CDC estimated that about 9 million U.S. residents travel to the Caribbean each year. Given that volume of travelers, chikungunya could occur more frequently in returning U.S. mainland travelers if the virus expands in the region.” Source.

The CDC stated that it is possible for a single infected person to start an outbreak of the disease. While we aren’t in the height of mosquito season now, it will start again in just a few short months. At Mosquito Squad, we protect our clients from mosquitoes and the dangerous diseases they carry with our mosquito control treatments. By treating your property for mosquitoes, your chances of being infected while spending time outside in your yard is decreased. If you have any questions, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Dengue Fever, Genetically Modified Mosquitoes and the Florida Keys

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that we don’t talk about too often, but it has made the news recently. Dengue is also known as the breakbone fever due to its severe muscle and joint pain and is considered a tropical disease that has, in the United States, been primarily found in Florida. In the last few weeks however, Texas and New York have reported cases of Dengue.

The Aedes aegypti is known to transmit dengue fever in tropical locations

The Aedes aegypti is known to transmit dengue fever in tropical locations

Dengue is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. The Florida keys have a large Aedes aegypti population and suffered a Dengue outbreak in 2010. Now, local employees are considering a new method of decreasing the mosquito population with mixed feedback.

Michael Doyle is director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD). Its goal is to control the mosquito population in the keys, an area that has the pests all year round due to its warm weather. Having tried pesticides and more natural solutions such as dragonflies (a mosquito predator) with little success, Doyle would like to introduce genetically modified mosquitoes to the area.

British bioengineering company Oxitec is the leader in genetically modified mosquitoes. They inject male Aedes aegypti with what is referred to as a suicide gene.  The gene prohibits the males’ offspring from maturing and kills them, thus cutting down on the mosquito population.

No MosquitoesIn 2009, Oxitec was criticized for releasing 3.3 million modified mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands without public consultation, however, the test displayed promising results. Since then, the company has expanded to Malaysia and Brazil.

When news that the city wanted to release modified mosquitoes in the Keys was announced, residents were anything but thrilled. They question the timing of such a radical step. The area hasn’t seen a dengue outbreak since 2010 and it seems too early to evaluate the long-term effects of genetically modified mosquitoes. As local resident, Mila del Mier stated, “why not keep the status quo and have more time for more studies?”

Doyle explains mosquito spraying isn’t as effective as they’d hope because municipal spraying cannot reach all the areas where mosquitoes hide.

We at Mosquito Squad are interested to see what comes from further tests of genetically modified mosquitoes. In the meantime, we will continue to protect our clients with our effective mosquito control spray. Our trained technicians focus on the areas where municipal spraying can’t reach, like heavy foliage on your yard.

If you have questions regarding professional mosquito control, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Education During Mosquito Control Awareness Week

Next week, June 23rd through June 29th, 2013 is Mosquito Control Awareness Week, sponsored by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA). According to the AMCA, the goal of the week is to “educate the general public about the significance of mosquitoes in their daily lives and the important service provided by mosquito control workers.”

A swarm of mosquitoesAnyone who has been bitten by a mosquito knows they are annoying. The bites swell, can itch for days and, if you are like me, you’ll scratch them over and over again making them last longer. Knowing how bothersome they are is one thing, but understanding the dangers of mosquitoes is another.

Some people may not understand how dangerous mosquitoes can be. Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on the planet due to the diseases they transmit through their bites. We may not have a problem with malaria here in the United States anymore, but that doesn’t mean we are safe from mosquito-borne disease.

Last week we discussed West Nile virus and what to expect from this sometimes deadly disease, but with Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Dengue Fever, mosquitoes can make a lot of people ill in numerous ways. And let’s not forget our canine friends. Every year, dogs are infected with heartworm through the bite of a mosquito.

At Mosquito Squad, we often talk about our professional mosquito control services, but it is important for people to understand the best ways to protect themselves against mosquitoes when they leave their protected yard. The first step is to understand mosquitoes.

While they are most active at dawn and dusk, they are out and about at all times of the day. They are usually found in areas with more mature vegetation as they feed mainly on plants (female mosquitoes need blood meals to lay their eggs).

If you are going to enjoy the sun around some water, make sure that water isn’t stagnant. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, but the eggs won’t survive in moving water. They don’t usually travel far from their breeding grounds, so if there is a lot of standing water in a certain area, there will be a lot of mosquitoes.

Cover up. If you are going to be in an area where you know there will be mosquitoes, consider wearing a loose long sleeve shirt and pants. Loose clothing is harder for mosquitoes to bite you through.

kill mosquitos and ticks at commercial venuesWhen it comes to your backyard, your best protection is mosquito treatments for your yard. Mosquito Squad’s mosquito barrier spray kills adult mosquitoes on contact and provides 21 days of protection thereafter. By spraying the areas that mosquitoes are known to feed and live, we are able to get rid of 85-90% of mosquitoes on your property. If you aren’t satisfied with the results, we’ll come back and spray your yard again.

If you have any questions on Mosquito Control Awareness Week or how you can protect yourself and your friends and family from these annoying (an dangerous) pests, contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Mosquito Experiment to End Dengue Fever

Key West, the most southern tip of the continental U.S., is one step closer to experimenting with genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever. And some residents and tourists don’t like it.

Dengue fever is a disease transmitted by the mosquito specie Aedes aegypti and is more common in tropical locations. Victims of the disease, also known as breakbone fever, display symptoms such as fever, headache, rashes and severe muscle and joint pain. It was thought to be eradicated in the Keys until 93 new cases emerged in 2009 and 2010 (source).

The Aedes aegypti is known to transmit dengue fever in tropical locations

The Aedes aegypti is known to transmit dengue fever in tropical locations

As a result of the influx of new dengue cases, mosquito control officials along with Oxitec, a British company, have filed a trial with the FDA to hopefully help with the problem. In the experiment, genetically modified male Aedes aegypti would be released in Key West to mate with females. The resulting eggs, however, would be unable to reach maturity due to a birth defect the male would pass on. They hope that after a few generations the mosquito specie would die off and eradicate the risk of dengue fever.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have not only caused illness in Key West, but they are also a huge cost. They are a strong mosquito specie that is harder to kill with pesticides. Instead, Key West inspectors go door-to-door getting rid of standing water where they are known to breed. This process is both time-consuming and expensive, costing the district $1 million a year. “’Unfortunately, control of Aedes aegypti is a never-ending job,’ said Larry Hriber, the mosquito control district’s research director.” Source.

Key West residents and tourists alike are against the use of genetically modified mosquitoes. They worry that there hasn’t been enough background research done and that the modified material may somehow be passed on to humans or the ecosystem. One local real estate agent, Mila de Mier, posted a petition on change.org to fight the test and has received more than 115,000 signatures. “We are dependent here on our tourists, and people from all over the country have been sending the message,” says de Mier (source).

It may be years before the FDA rules on the whether or not Key West will be able to deploy the mosquito control test. At Mosquito Squad, we use effective mosquito control solutions to protect our clients against the annoyance of mosquitoes and the dangerous diseases they may carry. If you have questions about how to protect your property, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Researchers Find Key Factors to Fighting the Dengue Virus

Recent research by University of North Carolina and Vanderbilt University professors have brought the medical world one step closer to creating a vaccine to prevent Dengue Fever.

Although it is believed that humans have been fighting the dengue virus for hundreds of years, it wasn’t documented until the 1950s when it reached epidemic levels in the Philippines and Thailand. Sixty years later and it is estimated that 40% of the world’s population is at risk of dengue. Almost all the cases that were diagnosed in the United States had been contracted elsewhere while traveling. Contact between the mosquitoes that carry dengue is very uncommon in the U.S.

Mosquitoes can be dangerous when carrying certain illnesses like Dengue Fever

Mosquitoes can be dangerous when carrying certain illnesses like Dengue Fever

The dengue virus is transmitted through the bites of several types of mosquitoes under the genus Aedes which primarily live in tropical and subtropical environments. Symptoms of dengue can start 4-7 days after infection and include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and rashes. In a small number of cases, the fever can reach a critical phase. There are four closely related strands of the virus and severe cases are more common when a person is infected with two different strands of dengue.

Until now, how the human immune system fights the dengue virus has always been somewhat of a mystery because tests had only been conducted with mice. For this study, Aravinda M. de Silva, PHD. Of UNC School of Medicine, was able to study blood cells from people that were infected with dengue while traveling abroad. De Silva and her team were able to locate what part of the virus the immune system attacked.

“’This is a huge issue for vaccine development,’ said lead study author Ruklanthi de Alwis, a graduate student in de Silva’s lab. ‘We have to figure out a way to develop dengue vaccines that induce the good response that protects against infection, at the same time avoiding the bad response that enhances disease.’” – source.

With nearly half of the world’s population at risk of contracting this vector-borne disease, it’s great news to see a better understanding of how the virus works in the human body and how our immune systems respond. Until then it is important for residents to decrease the probability of being bitten by a mosquito buy getting rid of breeding sites and proper use of mosquito control.

More information on this study will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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2011 Brought Advances in the Fight Against Vector-Borne Illnesses

Happy New Year!

One interesting part of starting a new year is always to look over the “best of” lists: Best celebrity weddings, best technology improvements, most fascinating people, etc. Discover Magazine annually puts out the “Top 100 Stories” of the year before. This year, several of Dread Skeeter’s nemeses made the list.

#90: Chronic Lyme Patients Validated

Diagnosing Lyme disease can often be difficult as its symptoms are very similar to other ailments, and in the case of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, some patients have been told they either have chronic fatigue syndrome or are perfectly fine. Well, in 2011 immunologist Steven Schutzer was able to prove that there is a difference between patients with chronic fatigue and post-treatment Lyme patients, proving the syndrome does exist.

Mosquitoes can be deadly when carrying certain illnesses like Dengue Fever and malaria

Mosquitoes can be deadly when carrying certain illnesses like Dengue Fever and malaria

#47: Ending Dengue

According to the Center for Disease Control, 2.5 billion people live in areas where Dengue Fever is present in mosquitoes, resulting in severe headaches, joint, muscle and bone pain and in some cases death. Australian scientists believe they may have the answer. When they injected mosquitoes with the Wolbachia bacterium, the insect was unable to transmit Dengue. 2011 tests proved optimistic when the bacteria was proved to be passed on through reproduction.

#28: Hepatitis B Boosts Malaria Vaccine

Past malaria vaccines haven’t shown great promise in trial, but a new GlaxoSmithKline test is showing a 50% success rate. The vaccine tricks the body into protecting against malaria by heightening the immune system via hepatitis proteins. With the trial running through 2014, we at Mosquito Squad are interested to see how it can help against Africa’s fight against malaria.

#13 Can Gut Bacteria Stop the Spread of Malaria

George Dimopoulos of Johns Hopkins University has found that the Enterobacter bacterium, when ingested by a mosquito, renders that mosquito unable to transmit malaria by killing a parasite that causes malaria. It was a happy mistake that hopefully leads to a cut in the number of malaria cases in future years.

2011 was a big year in the mosquito and tick world. Here’s hoping that 2012 brings the same, but as long as you are bothered by mosquitoes and ticks, Dread Skeeter and Mosquito Squad are here to protect you, your family and your friends.

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