Mosquitoes are considered one of the deadliest insects in the world, due to the number of diseases and parasites they transfer from one animal to another. This is done when the female mosquito takes a blood meal from a host. In many instances, the host is a human and the mosquito is carrying a disease.
Because mosquitoes serve as “vectors” of disease organisms, they can transport a pathogen or parasite from one organism to another. Furthermore, there are a number of diseases around the world that are caused by mosquito bites, which are common in the United States.
Facts Pertaining to Mosquito-Borne Diseases:
- Many mosquito-borne viruses cannot be transferred by a bite from one human to another.
- Birds are a very common vector for mosquito-borne diseases.
- Most of these diseases are from viruses.
Encephalitis vs. Arboviruses
The “encephalitis” are a group of associated diseases caused by viruses. If carried by an infected mosquito, they are called arboviruses.
St. Louis encephalitis is the most common arbovirus disease in the United States. Mosquitoes are infected by birds as they have a blood meal. Humans are then infected from the mosquito bite.
Consequently, this viral infection can cause fever, severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting in humans. These symptoms can be worse in people over 60 years old, although there is a low percentage of fatalities to the elderly.
La Crosse Encephalitis
La Crosse encephalitis cases have been reported in the mid-southern states including Tennessee in recent years. Many of these reported cases were children under fifteen years old. This virus is carried by rabbits, squirrels and other rodents. The mosquito will feed on these animals and then can transfer the virus to humans with a bite.
This virus can be carried by the most common mosquitoes in the region, including the Asian tiger mosquito. Consequently, this disease causes many symptoms, including headache, lethargy, fever, and nausea. Fatalities in clinical cases are less than one percent.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Eastern equine encephalitis is a virus transferred from birds to mosquitoes. The mosquito then carries the virus to equines (horses) and people by taking a blood meal. This can be a potentially deadly virus to young children.
The virus is monitored in the field by capturing birds and checking for the virus. Large local populations of infected birds can raise concern for human and equine infections. Vaccines are available for horses but not humans. While this virus is not common in Tennessee, cases have been reported.
Dengue is a viral disease that’s not of huge concern in the United States. Most reported cases have originated in other countries people have traveled to. This disease can cause high fever, pain in joints, and a rash.
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus has been reported quite a bit in recent years. Birds are also a vector for this disease and mosquitos will transfer it to humans. Most people will not have any or minor symptoms of the virus.
A few people may experience fatigue, headaches, joint pains, diarrhea, and rashes. A very small percentage of people may have damage to the central nervous system. One sign of West Nile virus in an area is numerous dead birds especially ravens and jays.
The CDC has reported that mosquito-borne Zika infections have been identified in the United States.
Normal symptoms may include headaches, rash, fever, and joint pain. This virus also causes birth defects in pregnant women. Unlike other mosquito transmitted diseases, this virus is transmitted by mosquito bites and from human to human through sex.
Mosquito Solutions & Services
The best prevention of mosquito-borne diseases is education:
- Be aware of the dangers of possible infection.
- Avoid high mosquito populated areas.
- Wear light clothing.
- Use a proven insect repellent.
If you need mosquito control treatment and services at your home, call the best mosquito control company in Tennessee, U.S. Pest Protection. When you schedule your free inspection with us, our knowledgeable pest technicians will propose treatments and protection services that will control mosquitoes around your home.