Posts Tagged vector borne illness

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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Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Battles Lyme Disease

Hello, my name is Jane and I am a reality TV addict. There is something about this mindless genre that pulls me in and never ceases to entertain me. As someone who is heavily invested in the lives of complete strangers and follows everything mosquito and tick related, it is no surprise that I have been following the recovery of one Real Housewife of Beverly Hills as she battles Lyme disease.

Ticks Populations increase

Tick populations are on the rise, make sure you keep close attention when spending time outdoors

For those of you who aren’t up to date on all things RHOBH (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), Yolanda Foster is the newest member of the franchise. She’s a former model who is currently married to songwriter David Foster. Last month, Yolanda began tweeting (@YolandaHFoster) about her battle with Lyme disease. After 18 months with less than normal energy, Yolanda was diagnosed with Lyme. Since announcing her diagnosis, she has been tweeting about all stages and symptoms of her battle. When she had a port implanted to provide intravenous antibiotics, Yolanda tweeted a picture from the hospital.

Lyme disease is transmitted through tick bites and can manifest itself through numerous symptoms, thus making it difficult to diagnose. While the bull’s-eye rash is a clear cut sign of Lyme, other symptoms are the same as the common cold or flu, like fatigue, fever, headaches, etc. Many patients can go months without the right treatment. As the number of confirmed cases have grown the last several years, it’s important to make note if you have come in contact with ticks so that you can tell your doctor. For those families who spend a lot of time outdoors, tick control for your yard may be necessary.

While Yolanda is the latest to share her journey, other celebrities have battled Lyme disease including:

  • Alec Baldwin,
  • Ben Stiller,
  • Daryl Hall,
  • Jamie Lynn Sigler,
  • Christie Brinkley,
  • Andy Cohen,
  • Alice Walker,
  • Amy Tan,
  • And George W. Bush.

We at Mosquito Squad wish Yolanda the best in her recovery and thank her for sharing her story.

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Cellphones help to fight malaria?

No. I’m not talking about mosquito repelling phone apps here. Researchers in Kenya are using cell phone data from millions of cell phone users to track the prevalence of mosquitoes in certain areas:  “That data was used to track where people traveled. The researchers then superimposed maps of population density and the rate of infection of malaria. The prevalence of the number of people infected with the disease combined with the travel data was then used to establish a per-day probability that a person would be infected if they visited a specific location.” Source.

Researchers were able to see why there were rises in malaria cases where mosquitoes aren’t common. It was because people were traveling to areas where mosquitoes carrying malaria were very common. After being bitten, those people returned home, carrying malaria with them. With this data, travelers are more informed on their personal health safety when it comes to this preventable, but deadly disease.

Although this study was first used to study malaria, researchers are already looking at other ways to use it, including tracking Dengue fever which is prominent in many tropical locations. They actually believe that Dengue will be easier to track because it’s more common in urban areas where there are more cellphone towers, which means more human movement data. Malaria, on the other hand, is more prevalent in rural areas.

Help Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad get rid of Malaria

Help Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad get rid of Malaria

At Mosquito Squad, we are interested to see more from this study. It could help people protect themselves properly before traveling to places where their probability of being infected with malaria is high resulting in more people getting sick.

Malaria, as I mentioned is preventable, yet it kills a child in Africa every minute. We’re proud supporters of Malaria No More whose goal is to end all malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. They’re making great strides towards their goal by providing protective bed nets to families. One ten dollar bed net has the ability to protect a mother and two small children while they sleep at night.

To donate to Malaria No More, please visit

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New Tick Borne Disease Discovered in the Heartland

In a summer that has brought us a record number of West Nile and Lyme disease cases, researchers have discovered a new tick-borne disease in Missouri, the Heartland virus.

Two farmers, whose properties are sixty miles apart in Missouri, independently sought treatment after experiencing fever, fatigue, headache and nausea. Blood tests showed very low platelet counts in both cases.

According to WebMD Health News “The first patient spent 10 days in the hospital. Two years later, he’s still feeling tired and often has headaches. At first he had memory problems and loss of appetite, both of which slowly got better.

‘The second patient was in the hospital for 12 days. Over the next four to six weeks he had memory problems, fatigue, and loss of appetite. All of these symptoms went away and did not come back over the next two years.”

Both men told doctors that they had been bitten by ticks prior to the symptoms starting. Dr. Scott Folk of Heartland (hence the name) Regional Medical Center sent samples from both patients, along with others, to the Centers for Disease Control for testing in 2009. “’Whenever he sends us a sample, we pay attention because we are likely to find something.’ Nicholson says.” Source.

And find something they did. Microscope analysis revealed the new Heartland virus. “We’re pretty excited about it,” says Nicholson. “It’s not every day you find something new.”


Lone Star ticks, defined by the white mark on its back, are believed to be transmitting the new Heartland Virus.

The new tick-borne disease is believed to be transmitted by the Lone Star tick as it’s the most common tick in the state of Missouri. No ticks carrying the virus have been found in tests yet more cases are expected.

At Mosquito Squad, we know that the best way to protect yourself against vector-borne diseases is to minimize the chances for those buggers to bite you. Our effective mosquito and tick control helps our clients do that without being forced indoors. If you have questions on how to get rid of mosquitoes and ticks on your property, please call your nearest 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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