How Mosquitoes Transmit Diseases

There are many diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes. You've probably heard of many of them. West Nile virus is a serious threat in the United States which claims lives every year. Zika has recently been in the news due to its being a new and scary virus that is finding its way into the U.S. from Central and South America. And there are many viral outbreaks in the U.S. that have been covered by news outlets which can be attributed to mosquitoes. Large areas of our population have been impacted by dengue virus, yellow fever, chikungunya, malaria, encephalitis, and more. But most people don't understand how mosquitoes transmit diseases, and this can produce an unwarranted fear and an inappropriate response to this potential threat. We hope to calm some nerves today and also provide important insight into how the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases can be prevented. Let's start from the moment a mosquito bites you and work our way backward. This will help to give a clear understanding of what is going on and how you can prevent mosquito-borne illness.

The Bite

When a mosquito bites you, it uses its needle-like mouthparts, called the proboscis, to draw your blood out. Before the mosquito draws your blood out, it injects saliva. This saliva contains an anticoagulant that thins your blood so that it can flow out with ease. This is one of the reasons you can be bitten by a mosquito and not realize it until later when it begins to itch. This injection of saliva is how a mosquito will transmit a pathogen to you.

Prevention: You can work to prevent this point of contact by taking personal prevention steps to avoid being bitten.

  • Avoid going into wooded areas and wetland areas to avoid being bitten.
  • Wear mosquito repellent on your skin or clothing to repel mosquitoes.
  • Wear light clothing to make it harder for mosquitoes to lock onto you.
  • Avoid going out into your yard in the early morning or evening when mosquitoes are most active or invest in mosquito reduction service for your yard.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol outside. Drinking one beer can make you much more attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Keep in mind that protective clothing with netting installed is available for purchase at many retail outlets. This type of clothing can be a big help when camping, hiking, or just mowing your lawn.

The Hiding Place

Before that mosquito bites you, it will likely be hiding in vegetation. Mosquitoes aren't great at flying. They don't zoom around in your yard or zoom around in your neighborhood looking for a blood meal. More often they will wait in a moist, shaded hiding place for a mammal to walk by and present a blood meal opportunity. They'll feed on you, your kids, your dog or cat, wildlife, and in particular, rodents that are crawling around in your landscaping. When a mosquito bites an infected person or wild animal, it can contract a parasite or virus and spread it to you.

Prevention: Understanding where mosquitoes hide and that they contract parasites and viruses from humans and animals can help you prevent being exposed to illness.

  • Consider investing in seasonal mosquito service for your yard. Routine treatments will make your landscaping a death trap for mosquitoes that try to hide in there.
  • Keep track of news reports that speak of local outbreaks in your area. If mosquito-borne viruses are hitting the news, it is a good idea to take extra precautions to prevent your neighbors from accidentally transmitting a virus to you by way of mosquitoes.
  • Be aware that a good rodent control program can reduce the risk of mosquitoes on your property by reducing a prime reservoir for diseases.

The Neighborhood

Before mosquitoes come into your yard, they live in your neighborhood. This is an important point to understand. Mosquitoes that come into your yard are local mosquitoes. A typical mosquito won't travel more than a few hundred feet in its entire life. Yes, hundred. Because of this, your efforts to eliminate mosquitoes in your yard can have a big impact.

Mosquito Prevention

If you have professional mosquito control, you can enjoy your yard and significantly reduce your risk of mosquito-borne viruses. If you add a pest control program that includes rodent control, you have the best protection possible—next to wearing that hazmat suit. For assistance with mosquito control in the Greater Houston area, reach out to Modern Pest Control. We offer treatments and the installation of mosquito misting systems to give you the control you need.

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