Posts Tagged insect-borne disease

Mosquito breeding season maybe over, but West Nile Virus is still a reality for many states in the US

Dread Skeeter Mosquito Control

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

It is the time of year when most people think that mosquitoes are a distant memory of summer past. West Nile Virus as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses and diseases don’t rear their ugly heads until the latter part of the mosquito season. The duration of the mosquito season varies from  state to state, but typically mosquitoes are active from April until October. As 2011 draws closer to an end the CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released it’s findings for West Nile Virus for the present year-to-date  on November 29th, 2011.

The findings show that for 2011, there have been a total number of 658 reported cases of West Nile Virus in the United States so far. This number reflects both neuroinvasive as well as non-neuroinvasive cases reported. Out of the 658 reported cases of West Nile Virus, 452 of those cases were diagnosed as neuroinvasive.  Neuroinvasive West Nile Virus means that the disease affects the nervous system. This can include encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain and meningitis which is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis can also lead to acute flaccid paralysis which is an inflammation of the spinal cord. Non-neuroinvasive cases reflect those patients that display less acute signs of West Nile Virus.  In many instances the true number of those affected by non-neuroinvasive aspects of the disease can differ greatly from the actual number of reported non-neuroinvasive cases because a great deal of those infected do not seek medical attention when the disease is mild. In some of the mildest cases the patient many times does not even know they are infected. All of these numbers reflect both mild and severe cases confirmed as well as probable human disease cases occurring between January 1st, to November 29th, 2011.

Photo of West Nile Virus under a microscope

Photo of West Nile Virus under a microscope

Some of the states that show the highest level of reported cases include California with 151 confirmed West Nile cases and 8 deaths as a result of the disease. Next in line are Arizona with 58 confirmed cases, Mississippi with 51, New York with 43 and Illinois and Michigan tie with 33 confirmed cases. Nationwide the total number of deaths attributed to the disease totals 40.  Only five states show non-human activity and those are Washington, Maine, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina.  There is only one state which has reported no West Nile Virus activity  either human or non-human for the year so far, and that is Maine.

This very important data  reminds us of the importance of reporting any symptoms of the disease early. The CDC’s  data also includes non-human infections and deaths reported by way of birds and other animals. If a high number of dead birds are reported in a specific geographical region it alerts the CDC and local health departments in that area to be on the alert for human cases that may present themselves.

Mosquito

The mosquito is responsible for this years current West Nile numbers

In all our efforts to prevent and control mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illness, including nationwide, statewide and down to our own backyards we all hope each year that the impact of West Nile is less. These finding remind us that before we know long mosquitoes will begin breeding again and now is the time to plan for the upcoming season. The winter months give us a great opportunity to inspect our own surroundings and devise a mosquito control plan for the upcoming season to keep our families safe from mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile. Take time to inspect your property for areas that are prone to hold water such as lawn and patio furniture, children’s play areas, bird baths, planters left from spring blooms and even gutters to ensure they are free of debris. Check any screened areas or windows for damage or tears and have them repaired before spring arrives. Getting your property in tip-top shape before the arrival of the mosquito season will start a good habit and help keep you safe and bite free. Hiring a professional mosquito control company to ensure you are on schedule prior to the invasion of mosquitoes in April is also a great way to keep mosquitoes and the diseases they harbor out of your property and out of your life.

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Dead mosquito - Mosquito Squad kills mosquitoes dead

Mosquito Squad has a safe and effective way to keep mosquitoes and the risk of mosquito-borne illness out of your property. Our mosquito programs will begin at the dawn of the 2012 mosquito season. We offer a worry free mosquito control program that entails Mosquito Squad’s barrier spray service scheduled at regular intervals to kill and prevent mosquitoes all season long. Contact Mosquito Squad to learn more. You can contact a Mosquito Squad location close to home by visiting our website at http://www.mosquitosquad.com/ContactUs.html

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Reports show a malaria vaccine is currently in the works to wipe out this killer forever and offer hope to millions.

malaria_parasites and red blood cells

Malaria parasites and red blood cells

Malaria is a disease that most widely affects residents of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Approximately 1,500 cases of Malaria are diagnosed each year here in the US, most of which are among those who travel to these locations or those returning from countries where Malaria transmission occurs. In most cases those travelers return home unaware that they are harboring Malaria until the symptoms start to appear.

Malaria is spread through the bite of a mosquito that is carrying  the parasite Plasmodium falciparum which causes. Up until recently, efforts to develop a vaccine against Malaria have been fruitless due to the inability to prevent the parasite from entering the red blood cells. Findings recently published in Nature reveal that a single receptor that allows for the parasite to enter and infect the human body has now been identified. These findings could put an end to Malaria pills, insect repellents and bed nets for residents of Malaria ridden areas for good.

Zambia4.large insecticde treated bed nets arrive to much anticipation in Zambia

Insecticide treated bed nets arrive to much anticipation in Zambia to aid in the fight against Malaria

The vaccine singles out the receptor that is responsible for the Malaria parasites to invade the human body. The vaccine will change entire cultures and ways of life in areas where Malaria is responsible for millions of deaths. These areas include sub-Saharan Africa where in 2008 and estimated 83,000 people, most of which were young children, died from the disease.

Mosquito Squad is a proud supporter of Malaria no More which promotes expanded knowledge and prevention of the disease through education and access to tools needed to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.  Mosquito Squad is also excited about the anticipated development of this malaria vaccine that is scheduled to be ready in approximately two years.

Dread Skeeter from Mosquito Squad helping Malaria No More

Dread Skeeter from Mosquito Squad helping Malaria No More

Contact Mosquito Squad to learn more about the Malaria No More program we support and to find out about safe and effective mosquito and tick control in your environment as well. To find a Mosquito Squad location close to home visit our locations list located on our website.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The vicious cycle of West Nile Virus from the beginning to the end

Dread_versions2

Mosquito Squad wants you to learn the facts about West Nile Virus."

As many of you already know West Nile Virus is a virus spread to humans and animals through the bite of a mosquito that has become infected with the virus through feeding off an infected bird.  The question is how does the infected bird become infected with West Nile in the first place?

The cycle of West Nile begins with a mosquito which transmits  the virus to a bird by way of the mosquito feeding from the bird, once the bird has become infected it serves as an amplifying host by developing levels of the virus that are sufficient enough to promote infection to other biting mosquitoes and thus pass it on to us  and other birds and animals through the bite of the infected mosquito that fed from the bird, which was already initially infected by a mosquito to begin with. Although quite confusing, the cycle is also complex, naming the mosquito the guilty party where all aspects of infection from West Nile are concerned. This vicious cycle carries out over and over again and amplifies the disease in birds. The disease was first identified in Uganda in  1937 and  since then has been commonly identified in the Middle eastern regions of the world, Africa and Western Asia. The virus had not been identified in the U.S. until an outbreak in New York in September, 1999. Since the New York outbreak more than 30,000 people have been reported with the virus and out of those 1,200 have perished from the virus. As of 2011 46 states have reported outbreaks of West Nile.

Blue Jays and crows are more likely to die from West Nile Virus than other birds.

Blue Jays and crows are more likely to die from West Nile Virus than other birds.

Many types of birds are likely to be infected with the West Nile Virus, but studies have shown that crows and blue jays are more likely to perish from the infection. In the 1999 New York area West Nile epidemic there was a huge die off of crows from the disease. Since this occurrence more than 200 species of birds found dead in the United States have tested positive for the virus. There is a detailed species list available through the CDC website that identifies the infected birds mortality rate from 1999 to present. You may visit here to view the list  http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/birdspecies.htm The identification of these species were reported thanks to the help of the public reporting cases of dead birds to their state and local health departments whom is responsible for collection and testing of dead birds all across the US.

Mosquito

The root of the West Nile epidemic lies in the mosquito.

Birds serve as vectors, or intermediate carriers for the disease from the minute the infected mosquito bites them. In many cases sick birds won’t show any sign of the virus and in other cases birds can just fall out of the sky dead from the virus. When a human becomes infected with the virus it can take on three forms, one of which is an asymptomatic  infection, the second is West Nile fever which is a mild febrile syndrome and the third is the most severe form of the virus which is called West Nile meningitis and West Nile encephalitis. Meningitis and encephalitis are neuroinvasive disorders which causes acute swelling of the membrane and lining of the brain and the brain itself.

Since there is no immunization for protecting us from West Nile the best way to lessen the chances of becoming infected with the virus is to minimize the risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Taking control of your property is key to controlling mosquito populations.

Here are some helpful hints to keep mosquitoes away…

  • Keep your property mowed and free of debris and brush piles.
  • Keep your bushes and plantings trimmed, tidy and avoid letting them get overgrown
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are free of debris that might cause moisture to collect
  • Tip, toss out and turn over outdoor items that are not in use or those that may serve as reservoirs for moisture
  • Check screened areas for rips or tears frequently and repair immediately to avoid mosquitoes from entering your home
  • Frequently dump and refill bird baths or other areas where water can stand and serve as a place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs
  • Have you property treated by a licensed professionall to kill and control mosquitoes
Mosquito_Squad_spraying_your_yard

Mosquito Squad can help you take control of your property and keep it mosquito free.

Mosquito Squad is dedicated to keeping you and your family safe from mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus. Our safe and effective barrier spray , as well as out mosquito misting systems offer you outstanding mosquito control. Contact us today to learn more at 877-667-7823

804.353.6999 • info@mosquitosquad.com

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The writing spider is busy writing mosquitoes out of the picture.

Argiope spider that eats mosquitoes

The black and yellow Argiope, also known as a writing spider, feeds off insects such as mosquitoes, aphids and flies.

This past week, my daughter and I were out on the back porch planting the usual autumn perennials. It is always a special time when we do our “seasonal” planting together, we get to spend some quality time with one another and I have an opportunity to educate her on different species of flowers and plants, which is a tradition she will one day pass on to her daughter. We decided to plant huge yellow chrysanthemums in correlation with rust colored majestic pansies both of which are so lovely this time of year against the changing leaves within the landscape. As we were busy getting our hands dirty, my daughter pointed out a large spider web right off our back porch attached to the azaleas around it. The spider was in a circular shaped web and the spider residing there was quite large, and scary looking, but yet beautiful in its own way. I discouraged the thought of getting rid of the spider until I learned more about this mysterious beauty.  I was curious about the type of spider we have living in such close proximity to our home and decided to do a little research on the spider.

charlottesweb

Charlotte, the beloved spider from "Charlotte's Web" was possibly a Argiope spider as well.

My gut feeling was that the spider we found was a “writing” spider reminiscent of the mythical spider from my favorite childhood book by E.B. White, “Charlotte’s Web”. My intuition served me well. My findings concluded that the spider we have residing within our azaleas is actually an  Argiope, or black and yellow garden spider, also known as a  corn spider, and referred to as a writing spider as well, just like Charlotte from my beloved childhood novel.

What I discovered is that our guest, the black and yellow Argiope,  is a common spider found among fields and gardens because they like to spin their orb shaped webs among bushes , tall plants and flowers. The female Argiope is a good bit larger than the male, and judging by the size of ours, she is obviously a female. The female spins a large web which spirals out from the center and can be as large as two feet across. The male spider will then spin a smaller web for himself on the outside of her web and is has a characteristic zig-zag pattern. We have not yet caught a glimpse of Mr. Argiope yet, but are hopeful to catch a candid soon.  The interesting thing about the Argiope is that  each evening the spiders will eat their web and build a new one.

Argiope spider web detail

This photo shows the Argiope's elaborate web.

The purpose of the web, like all spiders is to trap and digest prey such as insects which are the spider’s main food source. The web also serves as a nursery where the female will lay her eggs on one side of the web and cover them with a papery sac for protection until they hatch in the fall. Then the baby spiders will remain within the protective sac throughout the winter, and will leave when mother nature harkens the arrival of spring. A single egg sac can contain over one thousand eggs. The Argiope like almost all spiders  is not harmless to humans and rarely, if ever bites humans except in the rare instance as a defense mechanism if they are grabbed.

Mosquito

The Argiope spider considers the mosquito among its favorite snacks.

There is more to this stunning spider than meets the eye, the black and yellow Argiope eats mosquitoes among the many insects that get caught in its web, which cuts down on the amount of disease carrying mosquitoes that are thriving along the realm of my backyard. Suddenly this spider is beginning to become my friend. They also dine on aphids and flies as well, this spider is helping cut down on mosquito populations and helping to keep aphids off my rose bushes? Based on these findings, we have decided to let the black and yellow beauty make herself at home. We will not disturb her as she raises her young and has her gourmet dinners of my aphids, flies and mosquitoes and other garden pests. Bon appetit !

So, before you squash that spider that makes you squeamish, give some thought to the many ways it may be of great benefit to you and the world around you. Many of the world’s most scream inducing  insects and animals, like the spider and the bat,  benefit us from being natural predators of potentially dangerous insects such as mosquitoes, making them an effective weapon is the battle for mosquito control.  For every mosquito they dine upon is one less we have  to potentially put us at risk.

Visit our Mosquito Squad website to learn more about our safe and effective mosquito and tick control programs. Or, look at our location list for a mosquito and tick control location near you.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Among “skeeter eaters” the bat reigns supreme

Dread Skeeter Mosquito Control

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

The bat is a familiar image used to evoke fear and creepiness throughout the year and especially during the Halloween holiday. The infamous vampire bat is used to emulate a shape shifting capability that the vampires of Hollywood have become famous for. But even though we think of the bat as an icon of  o-hallows-eve, the bat is as beneficial as it is spooky. Bats like many other birds, fish and mammals live primarily off  of a diet of insects, and among those insects on the bat’s menu is the mosquito.

This photo shows a bat catching an insect

This photo shows a bat catching an insect

Bats are broken down into two suborders, megabats  and microbats.  Megabats primarily feed off of fruit nectar and pollen while microbats feed on insects. Microbats  are considered to be a mosquito predator and can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes that are likely to feed off of us as well as infect us with the diseases that they harbor. Bats come out to feed at dusk or right after dark and can eat a whopping 600 to 1,00 insects per hour. This is a substantial amount considering that the population of bats within a fusion can measure into the thousands. When you isolate a single bat eating mosquitoes it doesn’t paint the whole picture as accurately as taking the number of bats feeding off mosquitoes and other insects in one isolated area can.

The bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 bats in a single hour

The bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 bats in a single hour

Contrary to popular belief bats are not blind. Their eyes are quite small and underdeveloped, therefore the bat uses their heightened senses of hearing in order to locate and catch their prey. The bat uses a high-pitched sound that only other bats can hear and when the echoes from this sound hit an insect or another animal the echoes from their sound will bounce back off the prey and lead them to it. This incredible process is called echolocation.

Microbats begin hunting and feeding on their own at around 6-8 weeks of age, and a single microbat can live up to 20 years.  Research has indicated that if bats were to become extinct the insect population would explode at an alarming rate putting all of us at a greater risk for  insect-borne illnesses and diseases. A group of one thousand bats can eat up to  four tons of insects in a years time, this is proof positive that bats play a crucial role in keeping insect populations down and keeping us safer by doing so.

No Mosquitoes

No Mosquitoes

Next time you see a bat at dusk quickly darting through the twilight skies at breakneck speed, take into consideration just how much good that little creature is doing  for us by reigning supreme as a natural mosquito predator. As a society we should think of the bat as the crown prince of mosquito control instead of an icon of the prince of darkness.

We thought our barrier control mosquito and tick prevention was pretty good by lasting 2-3 weeks with one barrier spray to your yard. Well, outside of bats, barrier spraying your yard is the next best thing.

Visit our Mosquito Squad website to learn more about our safe and effective mosquito and tick control programs. Or, look at our location list for a mosquito and tick control location near you.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

Is there trouble brewing in that mud puddle?

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

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

Mosquitoes cannot exist without water, and I don’t mean just to serve as to keep them hydrated. Female mosquitoes need water in order to lay their eggs and carry on the cycle of life, and thus preserve the nature of the mosquito species itself. Many folks think that it takes a large amount of water for mosquitoes to lay eggs in. This is a common misconception. The truth is it takes very little water at all for a female mosquito to lay hundreds and even thousands of eggs to nurture her blood-thirsty offspring.

Many sources of water that are commonplace in any yard, on any street and around every house and business can be a source for concern. Mosquitoes are known vectors of illnesses and diseases such as West Nile Virus, Malaria, Meningitis and Encephalitis just to name a few, therefore citizens should become educated in the manner and locations that could potentially serve as a Petri dish for disease.

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito free

Mosquito Squad keeps you and your family mosquito free.

Storm drains, road ditches, flower pots, mud puddles, discarded soda bottles, children’s outdoor toys and even crevices in trees that can hold water make perfect nurseries for Mrs. Mosquito to carry on her legacy of irritation, pain and disease. All around the US, record rainfalls  this season have produced swollen rivers, lakes and creeks that can boost the population of mosquitoes across the country. There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes around the world all looking for a place to carry on the family name, so here are some ways to reduce the chances of making your property attractive to expectant female mosquitoes.

  • Inspect the areas around your home and property often and discard any items that are collecting moisture
  • Tip, toss, turn over and throw out any items not in use or that serve no purpose other than as water reservoirs
  • Make sure to keep your property trimmed of overgrowth and free of debris
  • Keep gutters and storm drains free of brush and debris that can cause water to accumulate
  • Empty and change water in bird baths and wading pools at least once per week
  • Inspect screens on windows and doors to make certain mosquitoes don’t find their way indoors
  • Have your property treated by a licensed professional
Mosquito life cycle, courtesy of Leon County Mosquito Control, Tallahassee, Florida.

Mosquito life cycle, courtesy of Leon County Mosquito Control, Tallahassee, Florida. ( Notice the blue area that shows the importance of water on the mosquitoes life cycle)

These simple safeguards can keep your and your family safe from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. Mosquito Squad is waging war on these pests with our mosquito control and prevention programs . Our safe and effective barrier spray is highly beneficial as part of keeping mosquitoes off your property.  Our  Barrier sprays are applied at regularly scheduled intervals during the season to keep you mosquito free all season long. We also offer an automatic mosquito misting system that disperses a spray at timed intervals throughout the entire day.

Even though mosquitoes have been around for over 170 million years, Mosquito Squad can help you take control of your property to keep you and your family safe and mosquito-free. Contact us today to learn more

804.353.6999 • info@mosquitosquad.com

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The Culiseta melanura mosquito is putting the elderly at risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Dread_versions2

Learn the 5 "T's" in mosquito prevention and tell those mosquitoes "bite me"

Most people think that EEE, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, is a disease that only strikes equine such as horses, ponies, mules and donkeys. Though in most cases humans are not at as great a risk of contracting EEE, those with compromised immune systems and health problems, especially among the elderly, are at a higher risk of contracting the illness. EEE is characterized by causing swelling of the brain, although some who  become infected will be asymptomatic. Those older individuals that become infected with the virus are more vulnerable to experiencing the more severe side of EEE than most. Early symptoms of EEE  are headache, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, cyanosis, convulsions and coma.

What is EEE?

EEE or Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a virus that is spread through the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. The virus is maintained between a cycle of the mosquito and a bird, and some cases is passed onto what is called a dead-end host such as an equine or a human. Dead end hosts mean that the virus can not be passed any further once it has reached this host.  Although many mosquito species are known vectors of the virus the Culiseta melanura mosquito has raised the alarm among states with high reports of EEE, especially among elderly residents and those that are immune compromised. Approximately one-third of all human EEE infections prove fatal.

culista melanura

Culiseta melanura

Who is the Culiseta melanura mosquito?

This mosquito can be found from Canada all the way into Florida and is unique in the way in which it is able to reproduce. Culiseta melanura are cold adapted and  have the ability to over-winter their larva until the warm temperatures of spring cause them to awake and begin their vicious cycle of feeding and spreading disease. This mosquito lays its eggs in stagnated pools and wherever water accumulates in quantities of 30 to 300 eggs at one time. This mosquito can reside in a variety of places from old tires, rotting trees to wetlands. Just like other mosquito species the male primarily feeds off nectar, and the female’s feed off blood from unwitting hosts.

Mosquito_Squad_spraying_your_yard

Mosquito Squad spraying your yard to guard against mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses.

What can I do  to prevent getting EEE?

The most important way to avoid possible infection is to make sure you don’t get bitten, because the mosquito that bites you could possibly be carrying EEE. Avoid potential mosquito infested areas, make sure to inspect your yard and areas around you home on a regular basis to keep standing water from becoming a nursery for mosquitoes. This particular species of mosquito loves moist areas.  Mosquito Squad has developed a helpful way to keep your property safe from mosquitoes by using a system called the 5 T’s of mosquito control. These helpful hints will keep standing water and areas that are prone to accumulated moisture to a minimum, when inspecting your property don’t overlook areas like gutters, and the crevices in outdoor furniture for they make perfect breeding grounds  for mosquitoes if filled with debris or moisture. You can learn more about the 5 T’s and other helpful hints by visiting http://mosquito-control-blog.com/2011/06/13/the-five-ts-in-mosquito-prevention/

The 5 T’s of mosquito control are:

  • Tip
  • Top
  • Turn over
  • Tarps ( remove)
  • Toss

If you are unable to thoroughly inspect your property yourself, then ask a loved one or friend to check the areas surrounding your home for you.

No Mosquitoes

No Mosquitoes

Another way to aid in protecting yourself is to have your yard treated by a licensed professional to kill and prevent mosquitoes that may possibly be lurking. Mosquito Squad offers a full-service mosquito control program from automatic mosquito misting systems to our safe and effective barrier sprays, both of which protect you and your family all season long from the Culiseta melanura and other species of mosquitoes as well.

Contact Mosquito Squad to learn more 877-667-7823  http://www.mosquitosquad.com/

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: