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Researchers Map Areas Of Arizona Where West Nile-Carrying Mosquitoes Are Most Abundant In Order To Reduce Human Infection Rates

Researchers Map Areas Of Arizona Where West Nile-Carrying Mosquitoes Are Most Abundant In Order To Reduce Human Infection Rates

Historically, mosquitoes in southern Arizona have never posed a significant disease threat, but this year the state saw an unprecedented surge in the number of reported West Nile virus cases. During 2019 alone, more than 170 people in Arizona contracted the West Nile virus from mosquito bites, 17 of whom died as a result of the disease. This makes Arizona the state with the highest number of West Nile virus cases by far, and surprisingly, the majority of victims contracted the disease in urban and suburban areas of Maricopa County.

Due to this abrupt and disturbing disease trend, researchers at Northern Arizona University have been collecting mosquitoes from Maricopa County and other urban portions of southern Arizona in order to determine which areas in the state see the greatest number and highest density of West Nile-carrying mosquitoes. The researchers are also hoping to better understand how infected mosquitoes arrived in the state in such large numbers. Unfortunately, the West Nile virus is now said to be a permanent part of southern Arizona’s ecosystem, so there is little to no hope at all that disease-carrying mosquitoes will be eradicated from the state.

According to genetic analysis, many West Nile virus strains are being found in Mosquitoes originating from southeast Maricopa County. This explains why West Nile infection rates were particularly high in the southeast valley this year, but since area-wide mosquito fogging is not feasible in populated areas, researchers must pinpoint specific sites where West Nile-carrying mosquitoes breed. According to Crystal Hepp, an evolutionary biologist at NAU, many infected mosquitoes are emerging near the intersection of Loop 101 and Loop 202 in Tempe. This did not come as a surprise to researchers, as shallow pools of water are littered throughout this area due to backup from the Salt River.

The largely residential town of Gilbert was also found to be a major source of West Nile-carrying mosquitoes, and this may be due to the significant amount of lawn irrigation and water-filled objects often found in yards. These sources of standing water provide disease-carrying mosquitoes with their primary breeding source. Hepp stated that if these areas of shallow and stagnant water are not removed within 72 hours, they become dangerous sources of mosquito-borne disease.

Do you make a point to remove standing water from your yard in an effort to reduce the mosquito population?

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Everything You Need To Know About Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes In Urban And Residential Areas Of Arizona

Everything You Need To Know About Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes In Urban And Residential Areas Of Arizona

The United States has seen an unusually high number of mosquito-borne disease cases this year. The most commonly transmitted mosquito-borne diseases in the US this year include the West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and St. Louis encephalitis. Public health officials are also closely monitoring cases of dengue fever and chikungunya in the eastern and southwestern regions of the country as well. While the high amount of documented EEE cases is higher than ever in the northeast this year, the southwest is seeing the highest amount of West Nile cases in documented history.

Between January 1st and September 24th of this year, 543 people in 46 states contracted the West Nile virus from bites inflicted by infected mosquitoes, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these victims, 156 contracted the disease from Culex mosquito species in Arizona, making Arizona the state with the highest number of people who have contracted the West Nile virus this year. Arizona has also seen 16 West Nile-related fatalities this year, and Culex mosquitoes remain active well into the fall season in the state. This is an alarming statistic considering that Arizona normally sees only 20 or so West Nile cases per year.

According to experts, West Nile is a preventable disease, as the virus is spread by urban-dwelling Culex mosquito species that rely on stagnant water sources in residential yards and urban areas in order to breed. Removing standing water and containers from properties would not only dramatically reduce the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes in the urban environment, but it would also prevent large numbers of Culex mosquitoes from congregating on residential properties where they transmit diseases most frequently. In Arizona, both Culex tarsalis and Culex quinquefasciatus transmit the West Nile virus to humans, and these two species are more commonly known as the western encephalitis mosquito and the southern house mosquito, respectively.

The western encephalitis mosquito dwells in rural areas where they are not often encountered by humans, but the southern house mosquito dwells primarily in residential and urban areas where females lay their eggs on the surface of stagnant water that has collected in a variety of containers, such as beer cans, bottle caps, gutters, kiddie pools, children’s toys, flower pots, neglected swimming pools, open septic tanks, storm drains, and culverts. Since this species maintains a habitat within 1 to 5 miles from their breeding source, these dangerous mosquitoes are always present around homes, and they are most active around dawn and dusk.

Do you worry about contracting mosquito-borne disease when you spend time outdoors?

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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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Which Mosquito Species In Arizona Pose A Health Threat To Residents

Which Mosquito Species In Arizona Pose A Health Threat To Residents? And Which Species Can Become A Nuisance Within Homes In The State?

The United States is home to 150 mosquito species, more than 40 of which can be found in the state of Arizona. It may be hard for some residents to believe that so many mosquito species inhabit the state, but most of these species are completely absent from urban areas. Culex mosquitoes and floodwater mosquitoes are the two main categories of mosquito in Arizona, but the non-native aedes aegypti mosquito, which is responsible for the greatest number of mosquito-borne disease cases in the Americas, has also established a presence in urban and suburban areas in the state. There exists six mosquito pest species that pose a health threat to residents of Arizona, and some can even become a nuisance within homes and yards.

The six medically significant mosquito species that are present within populated areas of Arizona are western encephalitis mosquitoes, southern house mosquitoes, yellow fever mosquitoes, malaria mosquitoes, inland floodwater mosquitoes, and dark rice field mosquitoes. The southern house mosquito can be identified by a design on its abdomen that consists of five distinct lines. Not only are these mosquitoes a nuisance due to their large swarms and the loud buzzing noises that they produce, but they also pose a health threat to both humans and pets. This species is a vector for the west Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis, and they can transmit nematodes that cause dog heartworm in pets and several encephalitis viruses in humans.

The inland floodwater mosquito is one of the most abundant mosquito species in the world and they cause more nuisance infestations than any other mosquito species. These mosquitoes are also notable for inflicting repeated bites and they can spread west Nile virus, western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and dog heartworm. The inland floodwater mosquito attacks humans in large swarms at dusk, and they can be recognized for the pale brown V-shaped design on their abdomen. These mosquitoes are particularly numerous in residential and urban areas of southern Arizona.

Have you ever been swarmed by mosquitoes while on your property?

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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.