Top 5 Dangerous Mosquito Viruses and How to Avoid Them


August 19, 2018 - Brian Reynolds

When it comes to irritating pests, mosquitoes are among the worst. Not only do they leave an itchy, unpleasant bite, they can transmit viruses that can be very problematic. Dangerous mosquito viruses can be spread through their bites, so avoiding these pests is important. If you’re concerned about mosquito-borne diseases, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of diseases caused by mosquitoes you’ll want to check out. To find out more about these diseases and how you can avoid the mosquitoes that spread them, read on.

mosquito biting a mans arm

The Zika Virus

The Zika virus has been a grave concern recently because of its connection to severe birth defects. These birth defects are referred to as congenital Zika syndrome and can occur if a pregnant woman contracts the disease.

Congenital Zika Syndrome has several distinguishing features in affected infants. These include:

  • Microcephaly (an abnormally small head) that is severe; the skull of these infants has collapsed partially
  • Eye damage that includes retinal mottling and macular scarring
  • Decreased brain tissue with additional brain damage
  • Hypertonia, characterized by rigid muscles, limited movement and flexibility, and tension in the muscles even while resting
  • Contractures such as arthrogryposis and clubfoot

The damage caused by the Zika virus is irreversible, making prevention a huge priority.

The Aedes Aegypti Mosquito

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is usually the vector for the Zika virus. These mosquitoes bite aggressively during the daytime. This increases chances of exposure, as this is when most people are outdoors.

Prevention

To prevent an Aedes bite, it’s essential to cover exposed skin and apply insect repellent that contains DEET when going outside. Repellent should be applied generously and frequently for best results.

It’s also important to prevent these mosquitoes from breeding in or near your yard. Never leave sitting water in plant pots, garbage bins, buckets, or any other receptacles. Always dump water that has collected immediately.

For maximum protection, you should consider having your yard treated with special insecticides that kill and repel mosquitoes.

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is spread by over 150 mosquito species. However, the most common vector are mosquitoes in the Culex genus. Culex mosquitoes, including Culex pipiens, Culex quinqufasciatus, and culex tarsalis, are active mainly at night. Most West Nile virus infections occur during summer months. This is the season when these mosquitoes are most prevalent. Rarely, the virus is transmitted by transfusion, transplant, and breastfeeding.

Transmission

This virus is usually transmitted to people by mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird. While most people who have been infected by the West Nile Virus experience no symptoms, approximately one fifth with experience:

  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph glands

Aside from these flu-like symptoms, infected persons may also experience:

  • Stiff neck
  • Rash
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness

While most people recover from West Nile virus without extended illness, some can develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain), West Nile poliomyelitis (viral destruction of the central nervous system that leads to paralysis), or meningitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes). These conditions can lead to tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma, and sometimes death.

Prevention

As with all mosquitoes, the species that carry West Nile need standing water to breed. Eliminate all sources of standing water around your home to reduce mosquito reproduction. Since the virus is usually carried by Culex mosquitoes, avoid going outside unprotected from dusk until dawn. For yards with a lot of plants or for mosquito-heavy regions, mosquito misting is an excellent choice for mosquito control. Misting evenly disperses repellent that kills mosquitoes and keeps new ones away. Misting can be done by an installed system or by technicians with misting backpacks.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is another dangerous virus that can be transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. These mosquitoes can transmit the virus within a week after they have fed on an infected human.

Dengue is also known as “breakbone fever” because of the characteristic severe back, muscle, and joint pain that accompanies the disease. Other unpleasant symptoms can include:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Pain behind the eyes

If the fever from the infection persists for up to a week and presents with bleeding, bruising, severe vomiting, and respiratory distress, the infection is known as dengue hemorrhagic fever. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a serious illness that has a fatality rate of 1 percent if treated, and up to 20 percent if untreated, according to the World Health Organization.

Prevention

Prevention is the best weapon against dengue virus infection. In addition to wearing protective clothing, eliminating standing water, and treating areas properly for mosquitoes, special care should be taken during outdoor activities during the day since Aedes are most active at this time.

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is another dangerous mosquito-borne hemorrhagic diseasecarried by the Aedes mosquito. It causes high fever, bleeding under the skin, and liver and kidney cell death. Liver damage from the virus can lead to jaundice. There is no treatment for yellow fever and the fatality rate can be high in those who are severely affected, so prevention is key. Yellow fever vaccine, proper clothing, and avoiding exposure are the best ways to avoid infection.

Chikungunya

The virus that causes Chikungunya fever, like Zika, dengue and yellow fever, is usually transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

Symptoms for Chikungunya can include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Joint pain that may also include swelling
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Lower back pain
  • Skin Rash

While Chikungunya is generally not fatal, it can be extremely painful. To prevent this disease, avoid exposure during daytime hours when the mosquitoes are most active, wear protective clothing and repellent, eliminate standing water, and have your yard treated by professionals to reduce mosquito populations.

Prevent Dangerous Mosquito-Borne Viral Infections

The best way to avoid dangerous mosquito viruses is to practice prevention. Protect yourself during times when mosquitoes are most active, remove any water they might use for reproduction, and always have your yard treated to eradicate these dangerous pests. Are you looking for the right pest control company for the job? We’re the leading mosquito control company in the state of Florida. Please feel free to contact us today for more information on our services.

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