No one likes mosquitoes. Unfortunately, these winged pests fill the Georgia air for much of the year. In fact, the little blood suckers are quite comfortable any time temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit with regularity. That combined with a regular water source in which to lay their eggs makes our home state a veritable mosquito haven.
And while it’s bad enough that they leave horribly itchy bites in their wake, the worst part about mosquitoes is the fact that they are known disease carriers.
Malaria, West Nile Virus, and Zika are just a few of the diseases that mosquitoes can deliver to their human victims. And while you may not frequently hear about friends and neighbors coming down with mosquito-borne illness, outbreaks have certainly occurred throughout the United States. And that’s not something you want to leave to chance – which is why so many property owners in this state are constantly looking for mosquito solutions, including professional pest control solutions.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the risks of Georgia mosquitoes and what you can do to prevent mosquito-borne illness.
A flying menace
Mosquitoes are “vectors” – which living things that carry and transmit diseases between animals and humans. When a mosquito bites you, it secretes saliva that enters your blood. Likewise, the mosquito absorbs parts of what is in your (or anyone else’s) blood. So, if a mosquito that bites you has previously bitten an infected person, it could pass that infection on to you.
And while only female mosquitoes bite – and the female mosquito lifespan is 42-56 days – they are still very effective at spreading illness. That is why the World Health Organization notes that more than 50 percent of the world’s population is presently at risk from mosquito-borne diseases.
Obviously, mosquitoes do not carry all pathogens, but they do convey certain viruses and bacteria quite effectively, including those responsible for:
- Dengue – This vicious virus affects up to 400 million people each year, producing around 22,000 deaths. And while it is most common in Southeast Asia, South America and sub-Saharan Africa, there have been outbreaks on the continental United States, including Florida and Texas.
- Eastern equine encephalitis – According to the CDC, this rare cause of brain infections (encephalitis) only produces a few infections in the US each year – mostly in eastern or Gulf Coast states. However, approximately 30 percent of people infected with this will die and many survivors suffer chronic neurologic problems.
- Lacrosse encephalitis – Another rare brain infection (about 80-100 cases reported in the United States each year), mosquitoes do transmit this virus across the United States.
- Malaria – Usually associated with jungle-bound or underdeveloped nations, malaria is actually found in a number of places around the globe – in fact it was fairly commonplace in the United States until the 20th century. Caused by a few types of parasites (P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malaria, and P. ovale), malaria is spread by mosquitoes around the world. When this parasite gets into your liver and then your bloodstream, you have malaria. In healthy people, the result is usually flu-like symptoms.
- St. Louis encephalitis – Another virus that can affect the brain, this is another rare illness – according to the CDC there 19 reported cases nationwide in 2019. Most people infected with SLE virus do not have symptoms. Those people who do become ill may experience fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Some patients may develop neuroinvasive disease, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). In rare cases, long-term disability or death can occur.
- Yellow fever – Another rarity in the United States (the last true outbreak came in 1905 in New Orleans), this virus may produce fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. About 15 percent of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.
- West Nile virus – Relatively new to the United States, this virus is now the leading mosquito-borne illness in the nation. However, the number of cases still remains relatively low. For instance, according to the CDC, Georgia reported 14 cases in 2019. However, about 20 percent of people who become infected with will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. Infection may also lead to severe disease (also called neuroinvasive disease, such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Estimates conclude that approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease. People over the age of 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with West Nile.
- Zika virus – First reported in Brazil in 2015, Zika has since appeared in the United States, including Florida and Texas. Populations that are at the greatest risks to the Zika virus are women in the first trimester of their pregnancy that will often contract the virus and pass it onto their babies. Infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. This is particularly dangerous because the transmission often goes unnoticed. Otherwise, Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week, including fever, rash, headache, joint pain, muscle pain and conjunctivitis. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.
- Heartworm (in pets) – Dogs and sometimes other animals such as cats, foxes and raccoons can be infected through the bite of a mosquito carrying the larvae of the worm. However, if you maintain heartworm preventative medication, you will be able to avoid this complication.
According to the Georgia Department of Health, the most common mosquito-borne viruses in Georgia include West Nile, Eastern Equine encephalitis, and LaCrosse. Saint Louis encephalitis virus has also been detected in Georgia in the past.
In fact, two ponds in Valdosta, GA, recently tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis. And while that may be South Georgia, it can occur just as easily in North Georgia and metro Atlanta.
The best way to avoid mosquito-borne infection is to not get bit. How do you ensure this? Through two methods:
- Protect yourself and family through insect repellent
- Eradicating mosquitoes around your property
Utilizing an insect repellent with the active ingredient DEET has been proven the most effective way of warding off the little blood suckers. However, natural repellents, such as lemon eucalyptus have also proven effective and are also readily available.
If you want to remove mosquitoes from your property, however, you’ll have to be more purposeful. The first step is to make sure there is no standing water available anywhere, as female mosquitoes can lay eggs in surprisingly slight amounts of moisture. To ensure an unwelcome landing spot for these pests, you’ll need to remove any object that collects standing water – as well as checking seals on hoses, rain barrels, etc. It requires both vigilance and action on your part, but it can produce meaningful results.
There is a less intensive alternative, however – one that kills those winged pests. Monthly mosquito control services have been proven to effectively decrease the mosquito population.
Applied by a knowledgeable and licensed pest control, these substances can destroy both mosquitoes and their eggs, while keeping you and your family safe – and not pent up inside your house, scared to venture into the yard!
Before treatments, mosquito control services – such as the one employed by Zone – come to your home to determine the parameters of the property and infestation level. They then work with you to determine the treatment plan that works best for your needs.
These treatments allow you to take back your yard and spend time outside without having to bathe in repellant. And while you should always ensure that your dog or cat is treated for mosquito-borne heartworm – you never know where Fido or Mittens may roam – you can at least rest a little bit easier that your property is not ground zero for a mosquito-borne illness outbreak.
The professionals at Zone have been helping backyards across north Georgia become no-fly zones for mosquitoes for years and know exactly how to help you with your infestation this spring and summer. Simply call us today and one of our helpful representatives will schedule a visit from our service technician as soon as possible. Contact us now at 770-904-5432
We are proud to be the #1 rated metro Atlanta Pest Control Company on Kudzu, and are proud members of the National Pest Management Association.