Mosquito bites and the resulting itching, swelling, and redness are familiar to most people because mosquitos can live almost anywhere in the world. But mosquitos are more than a nuisance. Their bites can result in serious health problems, causing them to be ranked among the most dangerous insects on Earth.
There are roughly 2000 species of mosquitos, with about 10 percent of those primarily in North America. Although mosquito-borne diseases are not as common in North America as in other continents, the threat is real. Among the diseases that can be transmitted are:
- West Nile Virus. This disease strikes in North America during summer. It can cause the brain to inflame and can be fatal.
- Heartworms. This is a pet problem, but knowing how much people care for their pets, it’s also a human one. Mosquitos can transmit heartworm larvae to your favorite animals, resulting in cardiovascular issues and ultimately death.
- Malaria. Although this disease doesn’t generate in North American, anyone traveling to Africa, Asia, South American, and parts of Europe is at risk of contracting it. Malaria symptoms vary but include fever and coma, and the disease can be fatal.
- Yellow Fever. There is a vaccine for this disease, which is found in Africa and South America, but without vaccination it can be transmitted between people via mosquitos.
How to Protect Yourself (and Your Pets!)
Although complete mosquito elimination is impossible, homeowners can take steps to help minimize the risk of mosquito-borne disease:
1. Keep you gutters clean to avoid standing water, which is the number-one key in trying to achieve mosquito elimination.
2. Provide drainage for water that tends to form in pools in your yard
3. Make sure water in outdoor items such as bird baths and plant buckets stays fresh, and look out for things that will hold water, such as old tires
4. Make sure water doesn’t stand in your basement
5. Use insect repellent when outside
6. Take all necessary medical precautions such as vaccination before traveling outside of North America
7. Give your pets heartworm prevention medication.