mosquito control

Don't Panic, But Zika Might Be "Scarier Than We Initially Thought"

From Gizmodo

Zika virus, which is a relative newcomer to the United States, has some citizens confused.  It seems that there are conflicting reports as to how prevalent that the virus actually is in certain states, and some people think that the reports of Zika's presence in their own state has been overstated and overblown.  Unfortunately, as this post from Gizmodo points out, there are over 700 reported cases of Zika in the U.S. to date, spread over 30 states.  Zika can cause birth defects, and preliminary research has shown that transmission is possible through human sexual contact.  If this diesease follows the same vector as other recent mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile, Chikungunya, and EEE, this disease has the potential to wreak havoc on the population.  As with any potential epidemic, common sense should prevail.  In this instance, taking precautions to preclude the mosquito bite in the first place is the best form of protection against Zika.

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Texas A&M researchers find new way to dodge mosquito bites

From Chron

Have you ever noticed that while in a group, enjoying the great outdoors, some people in the group receive repeated mosqutio bites, and some don't?  Apparently, according to researchers at Texas A&M university, this isn't just happenstance.  According to this post from Chron, there are special receptors that mosquitoes possess that actually communicate, in a manner of speaking, with microbes on human skin.  The post goes on to say that these same researches are experimenting with ways to disrupt this communication, thereby confusing the mosquitoes and theoretically protecting humans from mosquito bites.

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It's no secret that mosquitoes like some people more than others.
New research at Texas A&M University helps explain why the pests are choosy about where they dine, and may lead to greater protection from them.
Led by A&M entomologist Jeff Tomberlin, a group of scientists is looking at ways to outsmart mosquitoes by manipulating a communication system the insects use.
Tomberlin and the team, which includes A&M entomologist Craig Coates and former A&M graduate student Xinyang Zhang, have discovered that they can disrupt mosquito attraction to someone's blood by interrupting communication among bacterial cells, according to an A&M news release.

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West Nile Virus and Your Pool

From Ultra Modern

Most people realize that mosquitoes need water to breed and multiply.  What most people don't understand is that mosquitoes need only 1/2" of standing water to find the perfect breeding conditions.  This post from Ultra Modern addresses the question as to whether a swimming pool provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Spoiler alert:  Most properly maintained pools will not pose a hazard, but unopened pools and other pools with standing water are indeed a hazard.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the West Nile Virus is in Kansas. The most significant mode of transmission is via mosquito bites. In order to gauge West Nile's potential impact on pools and spas, we must consider a few simple facts about the virus and the mosquitoes that carry it.

The Mosquito Bite

People usually become infected with the West Nile Virus after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. The CDC points out that while most people who receive the virus have no symptoms, some develop an illness called West Nile Fever. Since the illness is relatively mild and short lived, infected persons may never seek medical attention. However, a small number of individuals, perhaps less than 1 out of 100, develop potentially fatal diseases called West Nile Encephalitis or West Nile Meningitis. These life-threatening illnesses result in the inflammation of the brain or the area around it and require hospitalization.

The Reproducing Mosquito

Mosquitoes reproduce by laying their eggs in standing water, and the hatching larvae require microorganisms and detritus (decaying organic matter) in order to survive and develop into adult mosquitoes. Therefore, one of the best means of controlling the spread of West Nile Virus is to control the habitats that mosquitoes need for reproduction. For this reason, the CDC recommends draining water from flower pots, cans, unused tires, pool covers, clogged gutters, etc. in order to limit their breeding habitat.

Swimming Pools & Spas

Although mosquito larvae flourish in standing water, well-maintained pools and spas do not provide ideal environments for mosquitoes for two major reasons: sanitation and filtration. As stated previously, mosquito larvae require sufficient levels of microorganisms and organic matter for survival and development.

Proper use of EPA-registered sanitizers prevent microorganisms from proliferating in the pool or spa. Moreover, some have reported that chlorine kills mosquito eggs, effectively preventing them from hatching. In addition, the regimen of regular, physical maintenance (brushing, vacuuming, filtration and back-washing) drastically reduces the amount of organic matter that the larvae need to grow.

Clearly, a properly maintained pool or spa severely restricts the food supply for mosquito larvae in the water.

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Chronic chikungunya symptoms have large public health impact

From Medical xpress

Although the Chikungunya virus is a relative newcomer to the United States, fears of the outbreak of the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes, were dampened by the reports of the disease's lack of persistent virulence.  Most cases of the infection are mild, and victims experience few or no symptoms after a week or two.  Unfortunately, according to this post from Medical Xpress, some cases have persistent and chronic symptoms that can last well beyond the normal course of the infection.  The article goes on to point out that this debilitating effect of Chickungunya has major impacts on the workforce for those employers and employees that have been touched by this disease.

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Prolonged and chronic symptoms of chikungunya fever, persisting up to six months after the acute infection period, were found to have substantial impact on individuals' daily routines and ability to work, and required additional medical resources to manage, according to research presented at the 2015 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Since the introduction of chikungunya virus to the Americas in December 2013, there has been a sharp increase in the number of chikungunya fever cases reported in the United States. In Florida, 520 cases were reported in 2014. In Africa and Asia, chikungunya virus infections have been shown to cause persistent symptoms including arthralgia and myalgia that last months after infection in some patients.
"Assessing the long-term impact of chikungunya infections and identifying those most at risk for developing chronic symptoms can aid in diagnosing and preventing future cases," said Katherine Kendrick, an Applied Epidemiology Fellow with the Florida Department of Health.
Florida Department of Health epidemiologists attempted to follow all Florida chikungunya fever cases with onset in 2014 in order to assess its impact and to determine which groups have an increased risk of experiencing chronic symptoms.
"We found that a large proportion of Florida's chikungunya fever cases were still experiencing symptoms three or more months after infection," said Kendrick. Of the 374 chikungunya fever cases interviewed three months after infection, 169 (45%) were still symptomatic, and of the 326 cases interviewed six months after infection, 76 (23%) were still symptomatic.

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Coming to America: The story of chikungunya


How the virus so familiar to Indians reached US shores.

It seems like each year brings with it a new foreign virus to American shores.  Last year, the latest in a long line of foreign intruders was a virus that has had a long and interesting history, the Chikungunya Virus.  This post from presents the convoluted history of this virus that first appeared in India in 1950, and then ostensibly disappeared until 2003.  In July of 2014, the Florida health department announced the first localized transmissions of the disease, and now it is here to stay.  Mosqutioes carry the disease through a mutation that likely occurred around 2006, according to this post, and that is what caused the exploding trajectory that the disease is currently riding.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

West Nile Virus Most Common Mosquito-Borne Illness in U.S.

Cases aren't increasing, but persistent, infectious-disease expert says

From Health Day

The Zika virus is all over the news, because it is the latest in a series of mosquito-borne illnesses that have instilled fear into the hearts of outdoor-loving people in the U.S.  The fact is, according to this post from Health Day, that you are far more likely to contract West Nile Virus from a mosquito bite, as it continues to be the most commmon illness in the U.S.  West Nile is also pretty scary, as this post points out, as 1 out of 5 cases progress to Encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain.  The key to preventing all mosquito-borne illnesses remains vigilance, repellents, proper clothing, and awarness.

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Natural Mosquito Repellents: Which Work + Which Don't

From Rodale's Organic Life

Mosquitoes are coming, and they are coming in swarms.  There is no way to avoid them, so most people will head to the stores to purchase a mosquito repellent.  Unfortunately, DEET-based mosquito repellents have been shown to be potentially harmful to humans.  The alternative is a home remedy, or natural solution, but do these methods have any teeth?  This post from Rodale's Organic Life puts the natural mosquito repellent remedies to the test, and reports on this crucial question.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

A day of outdoor fun can be ruined when you discover swarms of mosquitos sucking the blood from your veins and the joy from your soul. You don't want to cover yourself in DEET, but you don't want to spend your evenings worrying about West Nile or covered in calamine lotion. So we combed the Internet to find the best organic mosquito-repelling methods and sacrificed our own skin in order to test them out, then had our intrepid web producer David Oblas model each method. Here's what to use and when to use it, plus, what you shouldn't even bother trying.


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Shots for other viruses offer clues in race for Zika vaccine

From AP News

The Zika virus, which first hit the mainland United States this year, has been shown to cause horrifying birth defects in newborn children.  The disease is poorly understood, but that hasn't stopped the leading epidemiologists from working towards a vaccine.  This post from the AP News wire offers some potential leads that scientists are following to help find a vaccine, such as using gene modification, live vaccines, and mimicking existing modes from current vaccine technologies.

Here is an excerpt from the post: