Mosquito Borne Diseases

Most people don’t realize that mosquitoes don’t create the diseases they spread, they are simply carriers. And of the thousands of mosquito species that exist, only a few are responsible for infecting humans.

Here is a list of Mosquito Borne Diseases and we are the Montgomery pest control company to eliminate mosquitoes from your area along with its viruses.

Malaria

Malaria is one of the more well-known diseases that is also one of the most severe, especially in certain areas of the world.

It can be fatal and has been a major health problem in the United States, although it was eliminated in the early 1950s.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease.

History and Origin

Malaria has actually been recognized for centuries as a cause of illness and death.

The Chinese were detailing the symptoms of the disease in 2700 BC, but the parasite that causes it wasn’t discovered until 1880 by French surgeon Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran. 

Malaria Outbreaks

Malaria Control Mosquito Spraying Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone, Central America, 1912

Pictured above, “Man spraying kerosene oil into ponds, water-filled trenches, etc., to protect against mosquitoes carrying malaria. 1912.”

A major outbreak of Malaria occurred during the construction of the Panama Canal due to the large amount of open, stagnant water in the area.

This outbreak was fairly alarming to the U.S. Public Health Service, and they began to research how to control both yellow fever and Malaria.

By 1946, the Communicable Disease Center, now known as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was in charge of eliminating Malaria from the U.S. This was successfully done by 1951.

Attempts to eliminate Malaria worldwide have not yet been as successful.

How it Spreads

In 1897, it was discovered that malaria was transmitted via mosquito.

It can be passed from mosquitoes biting one infected person, then passing the virus on to others. However, Malaria can also rarely be spread from mother to child, by sharing needles, or via blood transfusion.

Once in the body, the Malaria virus first moves to the liver, where it begins to multiply before it moves into the bloodstream to infect red blood cells.

Symptoms

Malaria Symptoms Diagram
Main symptoms of malaria. Image source

Because Malaria symptoms are similar to the flu or other illnesses at first, some who have the disease do not immediately to go the doctor.

Once they do see a healthcare professional, a blood smear has to be done to identify the parasite. An antigen test can be done to quickly diagnose Malaria, but a blood smear should still be done to confirm such a test.

The symptoms of Malaria are fairly diverse, and they often don’t show up until some time has passed.

The incubation period, in fact, is anywhere from seven to 30 days.

Malaria is divided into two types:

  1. Uncomplicated
  2. Severe

Uncomplicated Malaria symptoms include:

  • headache
  • chills
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • body aches, and
  • feeling weak

People may have Malaria attacks during which they go from feeling very cold and running a fever to sweating and tired. These symptoms cycle between six and 12 hours.

Severe or complicated Malaria is much more severe.

Symptoms include:

  • kidney failure
  • anemia
  • seizures
  • confusion
  • unconsciousness, and
  • cardiovascular collapse

Treatment

Malaria is treated with antibiotics.

The type needed depends on which species of the Malaria parasite are the cause of the illness, how severe the symptoms are, and if the person has been to a part of the world where drug resistance has been noted.

If caught early, Malaria can easily be treated.

Prevention

There is no Malaria vaccine currently available due to the fact that there are a number of parasites out there that cause Malaria and what works on one doesn’t work on another.

Dengue

Although very rare in Alabama, River Region Pest Control is prepared to help reduce, protect, and control against future Dengue Fever outbreaks in the Montgomery River Region should the need arise.

Aedes Aegypti Mosquito - Dengue Virus - Montgomery, Alabama
Cases of dengue fever have been noted in over 110 countries.

Dengue Virus

Dengue (pronounced [deng-gey, -gee]) fever is a type of fever caused by the dengue virus.

There are a number of different types of dengue viruses, and they’re all spread by mosquitoes. Because a virus is the cause of this fever, it can’t be treated with antibiotics – only the symptoms can be treated.

History and Origin

Dengue fever most often occurs in subtropical and tropical areas.

Outbreaks have occurred in Central America and the islands in the Caribbean, although the virus has also traveled to Singapore, Tahiti, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and India via tourists.

U.S. tourists who come down with acute febrile illness often do so because of the dengue virus.

Acute Febrile Illness

“From the Latin word febris, meaning fever, an acute febrile illness is a type of illness characterized by a sudden onset of fever, which is an increase in internal body temperature to levels above normal.” ~ Biology Online

Cases of dengue fever have been noted in over 110 countries around the world. There are more than 400 million people infected with dengue fever every year, and out of those, as many as 20,000 die.

The earliest known recorded case of dengue fever is from 1779.

It has rarely been diagnosed in the U.S. In fact, between 1946 and 1980, no cases were reported. Since then, some cases have been identified, most of which were located in states that border Mexico during times when Mexico saw a major dengue outbreak. In 2009, cases were reported in Florida, and in 2015, dengue fever was diagnosed in Hawaii.

Dengue Pronunciation

Learn how to pronounce “Dengue” (Duration: 6 seconds):

Transmission

The dengue virus spreads from being bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito that is carrying the virus.

Also known as the “yellow fever mosquito”, this mosquito typically has white markings on its legs and a marking in the form of a lyre on the upper surface of the thorax.

These mosquitoes spread quickly during rainy periods of time or in pooled water. Once bitten, another mosquito can bite the infected person and spread the disease, but dengue fever is not contagious between people.

The incubation period of the dengue fever is between three and 15 days, although the average incubation time is between five and eight days.

Symptoms

Dengue Fever Symptoms Montgomery Alabama

Dengue fever symptoms usually appear slowly.

First, a person will have a headache, chills, feel sluggish, and have pain in their back or when moving their eyes. They may also have loss of appetite. During the first day, they may also start to feel pain in their joints and legs.

Shortly thereafter, they will start to have a high fever, low blood pressure, and low heart rate. They will start to look flushed in the face and have red eyes. Their lymph nodes will begin to swell.

This high fever can last anywhere from a couple of days to four or five.

Once it breaks, their body temperature will rapidly drop, and they will begin to sweat profusely. Following that, the patient will feel fairly normal for about a day. Then they will once again have a fever spike following by an itchy rash.

Despite the fever, less than one percent of all reported cases are fatal. The symptoms usually vanish anywhere from a week to two weeks.

Treatment

There is no way of actually treating dengue fever.

However, the symptoms can be treated by rest, fluids, and over the counter medications.

Prevention

Elimination of Habitat

Vector Control Dengue Virus
A 1920s photograph, taken somewhere in the southern United States, showed workers practicing “vector control” by digging a drainage ditch, in order to help disperse standing water that was acting as a popular breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The World Health Organization recommends an Integrated Vector Control program to help prevent the transmission of Dengue Virus.

Vaccines

There is currently no commercially available vaccine for dengue fever yet, but a limited vaccine has been available in Brazil, the Philippines, and Mexico since December of 2015.

It is used only in areas where dengue fever outbreaks occur at epidemic levels. Other vaccines are also in development.

Zika Virus

The potential for Zika Virus in Montgomery, Alabama has raised concerns for River Region residents.

Contact River Region Pest Control for Zika Abatement Spraying services.

Zika Virus in Montgomery, Alabama

The first confirmed travel-related case of Zika virus in an Alabama resident was reported in February of this year (2016). What are the risks?

The Zika virus can lead to Zika virus disease, a medical condition that has become fairly widespread recently.

While it’s rare to die from Zika, the fact is that few people realize they have this disease because the symptoms aren’t usually serious enough to send them to the emergency room or hospital.

Still, having the Zika virus disease is not a pleasant experience.

Origin and History

The Zika virus was first found in Uganda in 1947.

It gets its name from the Zika forest, the area it was first catalogued. In 1952, doctors recorded the first known case of Zika virus disease in humans. Ever since its discovery, many outbreaks have been catalogued, mostly in Africa and Asia.

Prior to 2007, however, few cases of Zika had actually been studied and documented because the few who had the virus went to the doctor. The symptoms are also very similar to other illnesses, so some may have been misdiagnosed.

In 2015, the first case of Zika virus was diagnosed in Brazil, and it has since been discovered across North and South America.

The World Health Organization has declared the virus a public health emergency.

How Zika Spreads

The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito.

When this species bites someone, they can pass on the virus. It usually appears anywhere from a couple of days to a week after the patient is bitten, although the actual incubation period is unknown.

Once infected, patients need to be careful not to be bitten by mosquitoes.

That’s because a non-infected mosquito can pick up the virus from an infected person and then bite someone else, passing on the virus.

Zika Symptoms

The symptoms of the Zika virus disease aren’t actually that serious.

Most only have a mild fever, joint pain, rash, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other symptoms can include headache and muscle pain.

The symptoms may last for a few days to a week. Generally, the virus remains within the body for a week or so, but it has been found to remain longer in some patients.

Pregnant women who develop signs of Zika after visiting a place where the virus has been reported should contact the authorities and visit their doctor immediately.

The disease is diagnosed by a blood test.

How Do You Treat Zika?

There is currently no way of actually treating the virus.

Because the symptoms are often mild, doctors usually advise their patients to simply rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take over the counter pain relief medication for the headache and aches.

If a doctor does not do a blood test, patients should avoid taking aspirin or any NSAIDS medication until a doctor is certain the patient does not have dengue.

As always, patients need to discuss any medication they take with their doctor.

Prevention

There is no vaccine or other way to prevent the spread of the Zika virus other than to avoid mosquitoes.

To that end, those who live in areas where the virus has been detected should take care when going outdoors and should take action to deal with any mosquitoes they see in their homes.

Once a person has Zika, they are very unlikely to contract the disease again.

West Nile Virus

Preparing for the West Nile Virus could be important for the health of your family and community.

Contact River Region Pest Control for West Nile Virus Abatement services in Montgomery, Alabama.

What Is West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus in Montgomery, Alabama - Nile River in Uganda
River Nile scenery near Jinja in Uganda.

The West Nile Virus made headlines in 2002 when it spread throughout the United States and caused several hundred deaths.

Since then, it has been a major concern in parts of the U.S. that have large mosquito populations. The disease can be fatal, but for many, there are no symptoms at all.

Origin and History

The West Nile virus was identified in 1937 in Uganda.

Since then, cases have commonly been reported in Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia. The first major outbreak outside of Africa was reported in Israel during the 1950s.

Later, an epidemic was reported in 1962 in Europe.

In 1999, the first case of West Nile was reported in the United States in New York. Since then, over 40,000 cases have been reported, and there have been more than 1,700 deaths.

The Center for Disease Control has noted that West Nile cases have been reported in 44 different states and Washington, D.C. About half of all cases in the U.S. have been reported in six states (California, Colorado, Illinois, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas).

The West Nile virus can be found in mosquitoes, birds, humans, and other animals.

How it Spreads

Culex Pipiens - vector of West Nile in Montgomery, Alabama
Culex pipiens on grass

West Nile spreads via mosquitoes.

The primary type of mosquito that carries it is the Culex pipiens, but it can be carried by several other types, too. Mosquitoes themselves are infected from feeding off of birds. These birds may become sick or even die from the virus, but some show very few symptoms at all.

Crows are a common carrier, although in the U.S., sparrows often serve as hosts to the disease. Once a mosquito has become infected, it can pass the virus on to people and other animals.

The standard incubation time for West Nile is anywhere from five to 15 days.

West Nile Symptoms

Symptoms of West Nile can greatly vary from person to person.

Many have only fairly mild symptoms that include body aches, fever, and headaches. A skin rash or swollen lymph nodes are also somewhat common.

Those who have more severe infections may experience headache, stiffness in their neck, high fever, drowsiness, and disorientation. The most severe symptoms include tremors, convulsions, coma, and paralysis.

In very rare occasions, death occurs. Those who have West Nile may also come down with related encephalitis or meningitis, prolonging their recuperation period.

Some long term effects can occur, including depression, memory loss, confusion, and irritability. These residual symptoms usually vanish after some time.

Treatment

West Nile Virus is confirmed by a blood test or cerebro-spinal fluid test.

There is no treatment for the virus, but the symptoms can be treated. Because the West Nile can affect the brain, doctors often begin therapy to prevent inflammation or other issues.

Fluids and anti-inflammatory medications may be needed for more serious cases, while over-the-counter medications may be enough to handle mild cases.

Prevention of West Nile Virus

Many of the prevention techniques for West Nile involve monitoring the bird population.

If many appear to be diseased or dying, medical authorities need to be alerted because there could be a West Nile outbreak.

Mosquito spraying can also help, although because mosquitoes can be so difficult to control, an outbreak is still possible.

Contact River Region Pest Control if you’re concerned about Mosquito-borne diseases.

Chikungunya Virus

River Region Pest Control can help reduce mosquito populations as part of a comprehensive Chikungunya response, control, and preparedness plan in the Montgomery River Region.

Chikungunya Virus in Montgomery, Alabama
Chikungunya virus was first documented in 1952 in East Africa.

The Chikungunya (pronounced: chik·un·gun·ya) virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes and can result in a fever and pain in the joints as well as a number of other symptoms.

While it rarely becomes a serious illness, the symptoms are not pleasant and can leave people ill for days.

Chikungunya Virus World Map 2015-10-20
Countries and territories where chikungunya cases have been reported. ¹ (as of October 20, 2015)

¹Does not include countries or territories where only imported cases have been documented. This map is updated weekly if there are new countries or territories that report local chikungunya virus transmission.

History and Origin

The Chikungunya virus was first catalogued in 1952 in East Africa.

Since then, cases have been found in Asia, Europe, and on a number of islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. While no cases were found in the United States for years, in 2013, cases were reported in the Caribbean.

From there, the virus spread to North America, South America, and Central America.

Chikungunya is now considered a world-wide virus, and cases have been reported in many countries.

Learn how to pronounce “Chikungunya” (Duration: 21 seconds):

How it Spreads

The virus spreads via mosquito – specifically, the Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti (also known as the Asian tiger mosquito and yellow fever mosquito, respectively)

Once a human is infected, other mosquitos can bite them and become infected as well, leading to the virus spreading.

However, Chikungunya is not contagious from person to person, although there have been some rare instances where the Chikungunya virus was transmitted from mother to child.

It may also be possible for Chikungunya to spread via blood transfusion, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Chikungunya Fever in Montgomery, Alabama

Symptoms

Those who become infected by the Chikungunya virus usually begin to see symptoms between three and seven days.

The common symptoms include joint pain and fever, although those who are infected may also experience a rash, joint swelling, headache, and muscle pain. Rarely, they may begin to experience eye problems or even inflammation of one of the major organs, including the brain, the heart, or the kidneys.

While this can be very serious, it often isn’t serious enough that it results in death.

Those who are already dealing with health problems, are over 65, or are very young are at the highest risk. The elderly, in fact, can actually die from Chikungunya, although that is very rare.

Chikungunya is diagnosed by a blood test.

Symptoms are very similar to dengue fever, but a blood test can confirm which of the two viruses is the cause.

Treatment

There is no treatment or remedy for Chikungunya infections because the illness is caused by a virus rather than bacteria.

Taking over-the-counter medications to reduce the pain and fever, drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and getting plenty of rest is the only way of treating the Chikungunya virus.

The symptoms usually begin to diminish about seven days after they first appear, but the joint pain can last for months in some people.

Mosquito Breeding Ground in Montgomery, Alabama
Eliminating standing water helps avoid mosquito breeding environments.

Prevention

There is no vaccine for the Chikungunya virus.

The only way to avoid getting infected is by reducing the number of mosquitoes in the area and by eliminating pools of standing water (areas mosquitoes breed).

People may also want to wear long sleeved shirts, pants, and use insect repellant when going outdoors during rainy periods.

If someone does come down with a Chikungunya virus infection, they should attempt to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes because that can spread the virus.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus, or EEEV for short, is a disease spread by mosquitoes.

It’s fairly rare in humans, with only a few people coming down with it every year. Most have very few symptoms, although EEEV can lead to brain inflammation and serious health problems.

History and Origin

EEEV is a virus that is found in mostly swampy areas where few people live.

That’s why there aren’t that many reported cases of EEEV. It’s carried by birds and by a strain of mosquito that doesn’t bite humans, although it can be passed to mosquitoes that do bite both horses and humans. ¹

Equine

Etymology: From Latin equīnus ‎(“of or pertaining to horses”).

This virus was first discovered in 1831 in Massachusetts following the unknown cause of the death of 75 horses. After the bodies were examined, the virus was identified.

Today, EEEV can be found in the eastern part of the U.S.

The first human cases of EEEV occurred in 1938 when a number of children died from the disease in conjunction with an outbreak among horses in the area.

EEEV is similar to the Western equine encephalitis virus and the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Incidence Map - CDC
A map of reported human cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis from 1964-2010. 

How it Spreads

This virus is spread by mosquitoes that are infected with it.

The cycle between birds and the mosquitoes that are the primary host to EEEV does not affect humans, but when a bridge species of mosquito is infected, EEEV can be spread to animals and humans.

Once bitten, a human or horse is a dead-end host; i.e., there is not enough of the virus in the blood for another mosquito to become a carrier.

On average, there are eight outbreaks of EEEV in the U.S. every year.

Most of these victims are in Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Those who are younger than 15 or older than 50 are especially susceptible to EEEV.

Symptoms

In humans, the early symptoms of EEEV include:

  • muscle pain
  • a high fever
  • headache
  • anorexia
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • sensitivity to light
  • meningeal irritation
  • confusion

These symptoms usually come on anywhere from three to ten days following being bitten by a mosquito that carries the virus. As the disease continues, the brain may swell and the patient can fall into a coma and die.

Generally, EEEV accelerates very quickly. Some may fall into a coma in as little as a week.

Treatment

There is no cure for EEEV, nor is there any specific treatment for the illness.

Supportive treatment is often done, but even so, about a third of all people who are diagnosed with EEEV die from the disease. Those who do recover from EEEV will often have anywhere from fairly mild to very severe neurological damage for the rest of their lives.

Very few people fully recover from EEEV.

Prevention

There is a vaccine for horses that kills the virus, but there is no vaccine for humans.

The only real way to prevent the disease is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. It is believed that having EEEV once does prevent a person from being re-infected, although this is not confirmed.

Why Mosquitoes Carry Disease

Watch the following video and learn why, and how, some mosquitoes are such prolific disease-carrying machines.

Begin Transcript:

Mosquitoes are often seen as one of the most annoying creatures on this planet and arguably one of the most deadly.

These buzzing nuisances carry deadly diseases like yellow fever, dengue fever, lymphatic filariasis and, famously, malaria.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria infects over 500 million a year and kills 3 million.

So, why are mosquitoes such good carriers of disease, especially malaria?

Well, interestingly, #NotAllMosquitoes!

Of the 3,000 species of mosquitoes, only three seem to be the ones spreading most of the human diseases we’re familiar with.

Anopheles mosquitoes carry malaria, filariasis, and encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain).

Culex mosquitoes carry encephalitis, filariasis, and the West Nile Virus.

And Aedes mosquitoes carry encephalitis, yellow fever and dengue fever.

In fact, many species of mosquito aren’t good carriers of disease at all!

According to Dr. Kenneth D. Vernick, a microbiologist at the University of Minnesota, “most mosquitoes are malaria-resistant and the susceptible ones are the oddballs.”

Most mosquitoes actually fight malaria with their immune responses to parasites.

After a mosquito sucks up it’s bloody meal, a peritrophic matrix, (or barrier) forms in-between the bug’s lining of their midgut  and the blood.

While it can take a few hours to form, it does trap some parasites inside, possibly providing protection against some of them.

The malaria parasite doesn’t infect mosquitoes at all, it never enters their circulatory system.

Another response mosquitoes have is to coat the parasite in a melanin capsule, but this comes at a cost.

The mosquito has to commit resources to coat the invader, which takes resources away from things like reproduction, resulting in the infected mosquitoes becoming less fertile.

So, though the parasite can enter the mosquito’s body, it often doesn’t make them sick.

Which is good news for the parasite or virus because if their host dies, they die too.

And malaria’s next trick is getting from the mosquito into a human body.

Probably yours.

The parasite uses some of the very things that help a mosquito feed to easily enter the next host.

Mosquitoes have substances in their saliva that weaken blood vessels, promote bleeding, and shut down the human body’s natural first lines of defense.

These evolutionary advantages help invaders slip into their next host; with an injection directly into the bloodstream, they bypass a lot of immune defenses.

And some parasites actually change a mosquito’s behavior to make it easier for them to achieve this goal.

One study in PLOS ONE found that malaria makes humans smell more attractive to mosquitoes.

And another study published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found that malaria makes mosquitoes feed longer.

It invades the mosquito’s salivary glands while in the sporozoite stage, which probably helps the parasite get into the next host easier.

But in their invasion, these young viruses interfere with the mosquito’s saliva production which the mosquito needs to locate blood vessels in a host.

With impaired salivary abilities, it takes longer for the mosquitoes to feed to get the same amount of blood.

Which is just fine with the parasite.

It gives them more time to jump to their new host!

So, though mosquitoes are good at ferrying parasites like malaria to our bloodstream, they don’t benefit from their morbid task, and instead put themselves in more danger, and can even become infertile.

The saying goes “don’t kill the messenger“, but in this case… you should totally kill the messenger!

I agree with one Cornell University researcher who called mosquitoes “the most vile and useless species on the planet.”

Why don’t we just get rid of them all?

‘A world without mosquitoes sounds like it doesn’t suck, but what purpose do mosquitoes actually serve?

Don’t they have to have a purpose?

Not really, actually.

They exist because they haven’t gone extinct, yet.’


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