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Why Are Mosquitoes Infecting So Many People With The West Nile Virus In Arizona?

Authorities in the Phoenix metro area are asking residents to keep their properties free of standing water sources, and to keep themselves protected from mosquito bites while outdoors. The number of West Nile virus cases has skyrocketed this year in Arizona, and the mosquitoes that spread this disease are urban-dwelling species that rely on small sources of standing water on residential properties in order to breed. Rainwater that collects in flower pot saucers, flower beds, kiddie pools, children’s toys, solo cups, aluminum cans and many other objects that are commonly found in yards attract massive amounts of disease-causing mosquitoes into neighborhoods. These water sources have ultimately been fueling the ongoing West Nile epidemic in Arizona, and therefore, removing standing water from properties can dramatically reduce the annual rate of  West Nile infections and even save lives.

Last year, only eight cases of West Nile occurred in Arizona, two of which resulted in death. However, as of August 28th, 135 West Nile Cases and eight deaths have occurred in the state, making Arizona the state with the highest number of West Nile infection cases. Despite California’s significantly higher population and greater size in terms of area, that state has seen 57 West Nile cases so far this year, far fewer than in Arizona. Surprisingly, California is second to Arizona when it comes to the number of West Nile cases per state, so why has Arizona become the number one state in the nation for West Nile virus cases? According to Dr. Stefanie Schroeder, medical director for ASU Health Services, West Nile cases increase during and after the monsoon season, and the virus is spread by both birds and mosquitoes, but it is not yet known which of the two is responsible for the current epidemic. In other words, nobody knows exactly why Arizona leads the nation in West Nile infection cases this year, but keeping properties free of standing water sources will certainly reduce the rate at which these cases occur..

Do you have more mosquito bites this year than you did last year?

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Arizona Is Now Seeing More West Nile Cases Than Any Other State, And Seven Residents Have Died From The Disease This Year Alone

Arizona Is Now Seeing More West Nile Cases Than Any Other State, And Seven Residents Have Died From The Disease This Year Alone

Those who assume that mosquitoes are only abundant in humid regions of the US are wrong, as the driest region of the US sees a higher rate of West Nile virus disease cases than any other region in the country, including subtropical and tropical regions like southern Florida and Hawaii. Arizona has emerged as the state with the highest number of west Nile-infected residents, and surprisingly, most cases are occurring in southern Arizona where the climate is particularly dry.

The significant increase in West Nile virus cases this year does not surprise researchers who found mosquito populations to be unusually high last spring. The high mosquito population this year is due to the relatively rainy 2018-2019 winter season in Arizona, which provided the first generation of urban-dwelling mosquito species with an abundance of stagnant water sources that were ideal for breeding.

Most of these breeding sites are located on residential and urban properties where rainwater collects within various objects commonly found on lawns. For example, bird baths, garbage and recycle bins, ornamental ponds, potted plants, tires, wheelbarrows, clogged gutters, water puddles beneath outdoor faucets, children’s toys, and ground depressions can all gather rainwater where massive numbers of mosquito eggs can develop into adult mosquitoes within a period of 7 to 10 days. Simply removing these water sources from residential lawns would drastically decrease the rate of West Nile disease cases, as urban mosquitoes rely primarily on these water sources for breeding.

Seven deaths have occurred in Arizona this year alone due to West Nile infection, and the latest statistics released a week ago show that most West Nile infections have been contracted in Maricopa County this year. Currently in Maricopa County, 135 confirmed West Nile cases and three more probable cases have been documented, which far outnumbers the usual 20 West Nile cases that are recorded at this time of year in Arizona. Both federal and state officials are now working together to reduce disease-carrying mosquito populations in Arizona.

Have you noticed mosquito swarms within your neighborhood this year?



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Southern House Mosquito Bites After Dark In Residential Areas Where They Can Transmit Multiple Diseases To Humans

Mosquitoes are becoming more abundant in southern Arizona, and so are human cases of mosquito-borne disease. The most significant mosquito-borne disease in the state, the west Nile virus, was virtually unheard of in the southwest 15 years ago, but now, mosquitoes are transmitting this disease to numerous residents of Maricopa and Pima Counties. Unfortunately, mosquitoes infected with the west Nile virus may be growing in number at higher elevations in more northern areas of the state, as infected mosquitoes were collected from Flagstaff less than two weeks ago. The last human cases of west Nile in Flagstaff were reported back in 2010, but another batch of west Nile-infected mosquitoes were collected in Flagstaff three months ago, indicating that the local population is at an increased risk of contracting the infection this year. Culex quinquefasciatus is one mosquito species that can transmit west Nile to humans, and this species thrives within urban and suburban areas where it breeds in stagnant water sources found in residential yards.

Culex quinquefasciatus is more commonly known as the “southern house mosquito,” and this species can be identified by the five lines that adorn its abdomen. However, identifying this species by physical features is both difficult and unnecessary, as southern Arizona residents know this species as the mosquitoes that frequently inflict bites after the sun goes down. This mosquito can also be identified readily by the particularly loud buzzing sound that it produces. This buzzing sound contributes to the species’ reputation as a nuisance pest in and around households, but this species’ is most notable for its ability to transmit diseases from birds to humans. In addition to the west Nile virus, southern house mosquitoes also transmit St. Louis encephalitis and other encephalitis diseases in humans. These mosquitoes even transmit a parasite that causes heartworm in dogs. Southern house mosquitoes are only able to survive due to the ease with which they locate stagnant water sources in human populated areas. Removing containers that have collected rainwater and reducing the amount of water used to feed lawn grass can go a long way at reducing the southern house mosquito population in neighborhoods and parks in the state.

Do you recall sustaining mosquito bites after dark?

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A Few Mosquitoes In America Have Been Found Carrying A Rare And Deadly Virus

Given the copious amount of news coverage on the Zika outbreaks, as well as the aggressive public health campaign to convince people to take precautions against disease-carrying bugs, most Americans probably think that they are well aware of the diseases that mosquitoes can spread to humans. However, a recent finding in North Carolina will cause many people to think twice about this assumption. Researchers in North Carolina captured several mosquitoes that had been carrying a life threatening virus, but you have likely never heard of this particular mosquito-borne disease. The virus is known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and two cases have already been reported in one single county. The virus is a threat to both humans and horses. Luckily, no human cases of EEE have been reported in the United States this year, but one horse has already died as a result of sustaining a bite from a mosquito that had been carrying EEE.

In Onslow County, North Carolina, researchers have found more EEE-carrying mosquitoes. These mosquitoes can spread the devastating virus to humans and horses through one single bite. According to Pamela Brown, Community Relations Officer for the Onslow County Health Department, some people who contract EEE may show no symptoms, while others may develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, then a visit to the doctor is in order. Those that contract the disease, but fail to seek medical attention, can rapidly develop more serious medical issues, including seizures, coma and sometimes death. Using repellent every time you step outdoors and being mindful of areas that contain standing water can prevent bites from infected mosquitoes. The CDC states that EEE is one of the most significant mosquito-borne diseases in the US. Thirty three percent of Americans who contract EEE die as a result of the virus. Most people who survive the disease will sustain serious brain damage as a result of brain swelling.

Had you ever heard of EEE? Does learning about this virus make you concerned for your safety this summer?

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Mosquito Protection Tips | Magic Pest Control

Mosquito Protection Tips | Magic Pest Control

Many people may connect the height of mosquito season, occurring in the summer through early fall, to the irksomely itchy welts that accompany mosquito bites. But, there are far worse associations to make with these blood-sucking pests, such as the health threats they pose to humans in their daily lives—even in their own backyards. To help protect the community against mosquito-related health risks, Magic Pest Control is reminding the public about threatening mosquito-borne diseases as well as prevention tips to avoid bites.

Thanks to professional pest control there are certain serious, and sometimes even deadly, mosquito-transmitted illnesses, such as malaria, that we rarely see in the U.S. But, the public should remember that there are still harmful diseases including the Zika, West Nile and chikungunya viruses present in the U.S. that can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. In order to protect against these health threats, knowledge about each disease and general mosquito prevention is key.

The main ways to avoid mosquito bites and better protect against mosquito-transmitted diseases include:

  • Applying insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon-eucalyptus or IR3535 when outdoors and use as directed on the product label. Apply repellant over top of sunscreen, and reapply every four to six hours.
  • Minimizing outside activity between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, though it is important to note that mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya are active throughout the day.
  • Wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors.
  • Eliminating areas of standing water around the home including clogged gutters, birdbaths, flower pots, tires and kiddie pools or untreated pools. Mosquitoes need only half an inch of water to breed.
  • Screening windows and doors, and patching torn screens.