Mosquitos are one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mosquitos cause about 725,000 human deaths annually. Additionally, they spread diseases to millions of people and animals every year. And the dangers they pose are now spreading faster than ever before.
Diseases Spread by Mosquitos
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that mosquito-borne illnesses include Chikungunya, dengue, encephalitis, malaria, West Nile virus, and Zika virus. The dangers of mosquitos extend to your pets. While diseases like West Nile and encephalitis are extremely rare in pets, heartworm disease is common and often deadly. Approximately 250,000 dogs are treated for heartworm infections in the United States and Canada every year.
Heartworms are tiny roundworms that can infect dogs of any age and any breed. Mosquitos pick up the disease when they bite an infected animal. The mosquitos ingest tiny heartworms known as microfilaria. The microfilaria mature to larvae in the mosquito. The mosquitos then spread the disease by biting another dog. These tiny and highly dangerous worms then live in the animal’s heart and veins. Heartworms can grow to a foot long. This horrible disease is much easier to prevent than to cure.
West Nile Virus
The first U.S. case of the West Nile virus was reported in New York in 1999. The disease spread quickly across the United States and is now present in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. Most people infected with West Nile do not notice any symptoms and there is no vaccine for the disease. However, some people do experience diarrhea, fever, joint pain, a rash, and vomiting. The CDC estimates that about 1 of 150 people who are infected with West Nile will develop some serious complications like encephalitis or possibly meningitis. Older people and anyone with existing health conditions are at most risk of death caused by West Nile. Any person who spends time outdoors during summer and fall months vulnerable to infection for this disease and should take precautions to protect themselves.
Lifecycle and Habits of Mosquitos
Scientists who study mosquitos and the diseases they carry believe changing weather patterns are leading to increased risk of mosquito-borne illnesses for more of the year. Mosquitos love standing water because it is the ideal environment for them to reproduce. Mosquitoes go from egg to adult in a little more than a week. They are most active in early morning and evening. If possible, keep pets indoors during these times and avoid being outside yourself at these times.
Protect Your Property and Yourself From Mosquitos
The best thing you can do to prevent having a problem with mosquitos on your property is to eliminate conditions that appeal to them. Standing water is most appealing to mosquitos, but they also like tall grass and piles of debris and branches. The most effective deterrent is to contact a professional pest control company and have them develop a plan of action to minimize the likelihood of mosquitos on your property. The dangers of mosquitos are not going away, and your best option is to be proactive about preventing problems rather than having to deal with the after-effects of a mosquito infestation.