Posts Tagged mosquito borne illness

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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Nashville Mosquito Squad Franchisee Gives Back in Africa

When I first met Patrick McKennon he was visiting the Mosquito Squad home office to decide if he wanted to invest in the mosquito control company in Nashville, TN. I distinctly remember his excitement when we discussed our partnership with Malaria No More, a non-profit that aims to end malaria deaths in Africa. Since joining the Mosquito Squad family he has been a proud supporter and advocate of Malaria No More.

In 2012, Patrick, with the help of his clients, raised $11,000 for Malaria No More. In 2013, he took it one step further.

Wanting to truly understand Malaria No More and their mission, Patrick traveled to Africa with his 13-year old daughter Grace last month. The two-week trip to Tanzania provided the McKennons with true understanding and perspective.

AFRICA 334Patrick and Grace started their trip in Serengeti and Ngorongor for a three day safari. They then spent a week in Moshi where they were able to volunteer at two different orphanages. AFRICA 383Patrick explains the kids as happy and have “so much love for so little.”

In Arusha, Patrick and Grace visited A-to-Z nets, the manufacturer of long-lasting insecticide nets. A-to-Z provides nets to Malaria No More and other organizations helping in the fight against malaria. Permethrin, the mosquito control agent, is actually part of the nets’ threads and each net lasts up to 5 years and 500,000 of them are made every day!

AFRICA 506Patrick and Grace didn’t want to be the only ones affected by their trip and wanted to make a big impact in Tanzania.AFRICA 434 They delivered 100 bed nets to a health clinic in Morogoro through Malaria No More and installed another 20 nets to Msamaria Center for Street Kids.

If that wasn’t enough, Patrick took it one step further, sending 7 kids to school starting in January.

While Patrick has gone above and beyond in his support of Malaria No More and the general cause of stopping malaria deaths, he’s not the only one involved in the cause. Mosquito Squad locations across the country are doing their part. Our mosquito control experts have donated to Malaria No More throughout 2013. We want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them.

Malaria is both preventable and curable, yet it remains one of the top three killers of children worldwide. If you want to help us support the cause, please donate now at SwatMalaria.net.

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Malaria Doesn’t Discriminate – Help Join the Fight

I admit that I am a big fan of Rebel Wilson. I find her to be a talented young actress who is absolutely hysterical. The other day I saw a clip of an interview she did where she credited malaria for pushing her to become an actress (stick with me, this will make sense). After school she was a youth ambassador in South Africa when she contracted malaria through a mosquito bite. She became incredibly ill and while in the hospital dreamt that she was an actress. When she recovered, she followed that dream.

Many people believe that malaria is an illness that only affects those that are less fortunate. And while the majority of malaria cases do occur in impoverished areas of Africa, it doesn’t discriminate. People from all walks of life have contracted and battled this terrible mosquito-borne disease. Here are some that may surprise you.

In 1503, Christopher Columbus had to cut one of his voyages short after contracting malaria.

Mother Teresa fell ill with the disease in 1993 while visiting New Delhi. She went to the hospital complaining of a fever, nausea and restlessness. She stayed in the intensive care unit before ultimately being released.

British actor Michael Caine may be Batman’s rock in the films, but in doctors told him he wouldn’t live past 40 after he contracted a rare form of malaria while in the armed forces. One doctor took a chance and combined two other malaria medications and Caine recovered.

Malaria is just one of the serious ailments that Ernest Hemingway survived. He also fought anthrax, dysentery, hepatitis, anemia, a crushed cerebra and ruptured liver!

Mahatma Gandhi became gravely ill from malaria while in prison in 1944. The British released him from jail while sick.

George Clooney got malaria while visiting Sudan. He recovered quickly after starting medication.

During a post-high school survival strip to Africa, Cooper Anderson picked up malaria. He now advocates the same nonprofit that we do: Malaria No More.

Dread Skeeter and the rest of the Mosquito Squad is happy to support Malaria No More in their mission to end malaria deaths in Africa

Dread Skeeter and the rest of the Mosquito Squad is happy to support Malaria No More in their mission to end malaria deaths in Africa

For the past four years, Mosquito Squad has been a proud supporter of Malaria No More, a nonprofit with the goal of ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. One of our franchisees, Patrick McKennon of Nashville, is currently in Africa on a mission with the organization with his daughter. We can’t wait to update you on their trip!

If you want to help fight this terrible disease that is both preventable and treatable, please donate now at SwatMalaria.net.

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Heartworm Awareness Month – Protect those Pets!

Happy Earth Day everyone!

April, in case you didn’t know, is heartworm awareness month. Heartworm is a deadly disease that affects both dogs and cats and is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Here are some things you should know about heartworm and how to protect your beloved pets from this dangerous illness:

  • It's important to protect these cute guys from the dangers of mosquitoes

    It’s important to protect these cute guys from the dangers of mosquitoes

    Heartworms enters the body in a larvae stage. They then make their way to the heart and lungs where they develop into mature worms

  • A heartworm can reach up to 12 inches in length (gross)
  • Heartworms do not affect humans
  • Symptoms of heartworm include coughing and not wanting to exercise
  • Monthly heartworm medication not only protects your pets against infected bites, but will kill any immature heartworms present in the body
  • Cats are less susceptible to heartworm than dogs
  • 25% of the feline heartworm cases occur in indoor cats
  • There is no heartworm treatment for cats, just prevention. Dogs can be treated for heartworm, but it is a costly and difficult treatment
  • Heartworm is present in all 50 states, but is most common on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts
  • Adult heartworms look like cooked spaghetti
  • A heartworm blood test looks for and detects a protein in the blood that is produced by female heartworms
  • Heartworms can live in the canine body for up to 7 years
  • The first article covering heartworm was written in 1847 and published in the Western Journal of Medicine.

Heartworm is a serious illness that is easily prevented. If you are a pet owner, make sure to have your furry friend regularly tested for heartworm (as recommended by your veterinarian) and is given its monthly heartworm medication.

Mosquito-borne illness, including heartworm, West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever, is a growing concern in the United States. At Mosquito Squad, we help protect families from these dangerous pests with our mosquito control for the yard. Our protective mosquito spray is applied to the areas of your yard where mosquitoes are most likely to feed, breed and harbor, ridding the areas of mosquitoes before they can bite you. Our barrier spray is available in both the standard and all natural formula. The standard formula lasts up to 21 days and reduces your mosquito population by up to 90%. The all natural option, in comparison, needs to be reapplied every 14 days and cuts the mosquito population by 85%.

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

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Mosquitoes Emerge in Warmer Weather, first case of West Nile in 2013

This past week has brought with it some warm weather on the east coast. I love spring and summer, the heat, the sunshine, being outdoors, it’s just an enjoyable time of year, except for one thing: mosquitoes.

When temperatures start to rise in the spring, mosquitoes begin to emerge and threaten to ruin our outdoor fun. For many parts of the United States, they’ve been active for several weeks now. Some of our Mosquito Squad locations are already out and about protecting yards from mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes need two things to reproduce: blood and standing water. Male mosquitoes do not bite, but instead only feed on plant proteins. Females, on the other hand, need the protein from blood to lay their eggs. They smell carbon dioxide and know they can find blood at the source. After a blood meal, the mosquito then needs standing water to lay its eggs, and it doesn’t need much. Up to 300 mosquito eggs can be laid in as much as a bottle cap full of water!

While the itch from bug bites is enough motivation to rid your yard of mosquitoes, they also carry and transmit dangerous diseases. Last year there was an increase in the numbers of confirmed West Nile cases in the US. The Centers of Disease Control reports a total of over 5,300 cases over 48 states. Symptoms can include fever, headaches, fatigue and joint pain. As a result, many states and municipalities are increasing their mosquito control efforts this year to help fight the spread of West Nile.

Despite enhanced efforts to fight the spread of West Nile and other vector-borne disease, Mississippi is reporting the first human case this year, a full two months before the first human case in 2012. Even with municipalities doing more to cut down the mosquito populations in public areas, homeowners should be protecting their properties from mosquitoes as well.

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

At Mosquito Squad, we offer our clients three residential mosquito control options:

  1. Our 21-day mosquito barrier spray program brings a trained applicator to your home once every three weeks. The spray is applied to the vegetation on your property where mosquitoes are known to feed and harbor.
  2. The barrier spray is also available in an all-natural version. As opposed to the standard barrier spray, the all-natural option should be applied to the property every two weeks.
  3. If you would like something more permanent, an installed mosquito control misting system may be a good option. The misting system emits small bursts of mosquito spray at times of the day when mosquitoes are most active.

As spring and summer begins, it’s important to make sure you can get the most out of your outdoor spaces. If you have a mosquito problem, reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office. Dread Skeeter and his squad are sure to help!

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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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