Mosquitoes In The South

Mosquitoes In The South

The South is known for many things like warm weather, sweet tea, and southern hospitality. Unfortunately, the south is also known for another thing – mosquitoes! Mosquitoes thrive in warm, humid climates like we have here in the southern United States. As the weather warms, mosquito season begins and peaks in the mid-summer months. Mosquitoes can breed in less than 1 inch of water so the South offers them a multitude of habitats to expand their populations.

Mosquito bites cause irritation and itching of the skin. Besides this nuisance, mosquitoes can also transmit diseases that can threaten the health of both humans and animals. Here are some of the most common diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes:

MALARIA

  • Spread by Anopheles species of mosquito
  • About 1700 cases per year in the US
  • Most cases are from travelers returning from malaria infected countries
  • Serious disease, sometimes fatal
  • Symptoms include high fevers, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting
  • Curable if diagnosed and treated promptly
  • The potential for the disease to re-emerge in the US is present especially in the South

DENGUE

  • Spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito
  • Rarely occurs in the US but rampant in Puerto Rico and Latin America
  • Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding (especially of the nose and gums)
  • No vaccine to prevent in the US but there are vaccines registered for use in other countries
  • No specific treatment; treat symptomatically with pain relievers, fever reducers, rest, and fluids

CHIKUNGUNYA

  • Spread by the Aedes species of mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus)
  • Very similar to dengue and Zika
  • Symptoms include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rash
  • Rarely fatal but extremely debilitating
  • No vaccine to prevent
  • Treatment is symptomatic with rest, fluids, fever reducers, and pain relievers

WEST NILE VIRUS

  • West Nile Virus has been detected in over 30 species of mosquitoes
  • Cases have been reported in all of the continental US
  • Most people (8/10) do not have any symptoms at all
  • 1/5 people have a high fever
  • 1/150 people develop encephalitis which can be fatal
  • No vaccine to prevent
  • Treatment is symptomatic with fever reducers and pain relievers

ZIKA

  • Spread by the Aedes species of mosquito
  • Also spread by sexual contact and from pregnant mothers to their fetus
  • Cases have been reported in all of the continental United States
  • Symptoms include fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain
  • Zika can also cause birth defects when passed to babies from their mothers during pregnancy
  • No vaccine to prevent
  • Treatment is symptomatic with rest, fluids, pain relievers, and fever reducers

PREVENTION:

Now that you know some of the diseases you can contract from mosquitoes what can you do to prevent them? Avoiding mosquito bites is the #1 way to prevent all of the diseases mentioned above. Check out these tips to avoid mosquito bites and help keep them away from yourself and your home.

  1. Eliminate standing water around your home, especially in old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, and any other containers that can hold water.
  2. Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, and rain barrels at least once a week.
  3. Empty and change water in outdoor pet bowls daily.
  4. Check gutters for clogs which can cause water to pool. Clean them regularly, especially during the summer season. Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs.
  5. Drain and fill any temporary pools of water around your home with dirt. Try to get your yard as level as possible.
  6. Keep swimming pool water treated appropriately and circulating.
  7. Make sure window and door screens are in good repair. Cover any gaps in walls, doors, and windows to keep mosquitoes from getting into your home.
  8. Keep doors and windows closed and stay indoors as much as possible, especially during the summer months.
  9. Keep your grass cut short and rake up any fallen leaves. Mosquitoes like to rest on grass during the day so keeping it short will eliminate this. Leaves can hold enough water for mosquitoes to breed so keep them raked up, as well.
  10. Replace your outdoor lights with yellow “bug lights.” These don’t eliminate mosquitoes but they do attract less of them than regular lights do.
  11. If you have to go outside, wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to protect as much skin as possible.
  12. If you have to be outside in areas where there are a large number of mosquitoes, use head nets, long sleeves, and long pants.
  13. Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents but  be sure to follow precautions and instructions carefully.
  14. Avoid using scented bath products if possible. While the connection is unknown, studies have shown that mosquitoes seem to be attracted to fragrances found in shampoo, perfume, cologne, and lotion.
Mosquito Diseases: Are You at Risk?

Mosquito Diseases: Are You at Risk?

Mosquitoes are known carriers of several viruses, transmitting disease and parasites to people and animals that come in contact with them via painful bites. While some of these diseases don’t pose serious health risks, others can be deadly (over one million people die each year from mosquito-borne diseases, according to the AMCA!). Here are 3 common mosquito diseases you should be cautious of this summer:

Zika Virus

What is it?

First discovered in 1947, Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, originated in Uganda, Africa. Shortly after, outbreaks of Zika were detected throughout tropical areas in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, according to the CDC. Now, mosquitoes carrying Zika have been identified in many countries, including the U.S.

How do you get it?

Primarily transmitted by the Aedes species, infected mosquitoes can spread Zika to humans and animals through bites. These mosquitoes are active during daytime and evening hours. Zika can also be sexually transmitted from one infected partner to another, from pregnant women to unborn babies, and through blood transfusions.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptom of Zika include rash, fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, and/or red eyes and can last for up to a week, but many infected won’t show any symptoms at all. Zika is dangerous specifically for pregnant women as it can cause birth defects, a condition called Microcephaly, in fetuses. This can cause brain and eye defects, hearing deficits, and impair growth.

How do you prevent it?

Because there’s currently no vaccine to treat and/or cure Zika, the best way to protect yourself is by preventing mosquito bites. Keep arms and legs covered in loose, light-colored clothing when outdoors and use insect repellent. Repair or replace missing or damaged window and door screens at home and keep them closed as often as possible. Control mosquito populations around your home by getting rid of adult mosquitoes as well as reducing mosquito reproduction with home mosquito treatments from a licensed pest control company. Most companies offer eco-friendly mosquito treatment options that are family and pet-friendly, if having your yard treated with chemicals is a concern. If pregnant, the CDC advises to avoid traveling to countries with known Zika outbreaks  – see the list here – and refrain from unprotected sex.

What if you have it?

Check with your doctor to get tested. To minimize symptoms, drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, reduce fever or pain with over-the-counter pain medicines (avoid aspirin), and prevent additional mosquito bites. If you’re bitten by a mosquito once infected, you can pass Zika to other mosquitoes, who will then infect someone else – increasing the spread of Zika. If you’re pregnant and suspect you have Zika, contact your physician immediately.

West Nile Virus

What is it?

The first occurrences of West Nile in the U.S emerged in New York in 1999 with 62 confirmed cases and 7 human deaths, according to the AMCA. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus carried by many different mosquitoes, one of the most common being the Culex species.

How do you get it?

West Nile is most often transferred from birds to mosquitoes, and then from mosquitoes to humans and animals through bites.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may develop 3-14 days after bitten. Typically only 20% of people infected with West Nile virus will experience symptoms which include headache, body aches, and fever and usually last a week or less. Rarely, the virus develops into West Nile encephalitis which can cause high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, muscle weakness, convulsions, paralysis, and sometimes death. This is most common in people over the age of 50.

How do you prevent it?

Like Zika, there is no vaccine for West Nile virus. Prevent the virus by preventing mosquito bites.

What if you have it?

See your doctor. A blood test can determine if you’re infected with West Nile virus. If symptoms are severe, hospitalization may be necessary.

Dengue

What is it?

Dengue, a mosquito-borne virus, is the leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics according to the CDC (400 million people infected each year). While it rarely occurs in the U.S., it’s important to be aware of dengue while traveling to popular tourist destinations like Puerto Rico, parts of Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands. Dengue is carried by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito species which are found throughout the world.

How do you get it?

Mosquitoes carrying dengue infect humans through bites and infected humans can infect other mosquitoes, when bitten.

What are the symptoms?

Most cases of dengue in the U.S. were acquired through travel abroad. Symptoms include severe headache, high fever, eye pain, joint pain, muscle pain, and rash. Severe cases can cause stomach pain, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and bleeding from gums and/or nose.

How do you prevent it?

Mosquito bite prevention is key when traveling to areas with known dengue outbreaks as there is no vaccine for dengue or medications to treat it. It’s especially critical for people with dengue to avoid mosquito bites so the disease isn’t spread from person to another mosquito.

What if you have it?

If symptoms are mild, lots of rest and fluids are recommended. For more severe symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.

Spring is Here & So Are Mosquitoes! Here's How You Can Prevent Mosquito Bites & Diseases Like Zika

Spring is Here & So Are Mosquitoes! Here's How You Can Prevent Mosquito Bites & Diseases Like Zika

It’s the first official week of Spring (aka Mosquito Season)! Time to start thinking about mosquito prevention.
The risk of contracting mosquito-borne Zika virus in the U.S. is at an all-time high, specifically dangerous for pregnant women or those trying to conceive as the virus can cause serious birth defects. According to the CDC, 222 cases of Zika were reported as of March 15, 2017, acquired through local mosquito-borne transmission in Florida and Texas. And because there’s currently no vaccine for Zika, the only way to prevent it is with mosquito bite prevention. Here’s how you can minimize your risk and limit the spread of Zika.

Home Mosquito Control

The best way to prevent mosquito bites when spending time outside this spring and summer is to reduce mosquito populations around your home with a mosquito control program. Usually consisting of monthly treatments, a professional mosquito control program includes:

  • Removal and/or reduction of mosquito resting and breeding sites – any areas that accumulate standing water like planters, toys, bird baths, pet bowls, containers, etc.
  • Larvicide treatments to mosquito breeding sites that cannot be removed, targeting mosquito larvae which inhibits maturity into adult mosquitoes
  • Adulticide treatments to mosquito resting sites – shaded areas, shrubbery, small trees, ivy, etc. – reducing the amount of adult mosquitoes around your home
  • Monthly inspections and recommendations on how to reduce mosquito breeding and resting areas

Other ways you can prevent mosquito bites:

  • Cover arms and legs when spending time outdoors with light, loose-fitting clothing
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your home by identifying entry points like broken, damaged, or missing window and door screens and make necessary repairs
  • Reduce mosquito breeding areas by eliminating any items inside that can accumulate standing water
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone

 

Spring is Here & So Are Mosquitoes! Here's How You Can Prevent Mosquito Bites & Diseases Like Zika

Spring is Here & So Are Mosquitoes! Here’s How You Can Prevent Mosquito Bites & Diseases Like Zika

It’s the first official week of Spring (aka Mosquito Season)! Time to start thinking about mosquito prevention.

The risk of contracting mosquito-borne Zika virus in the U.S. is at an all-time high, specifically dangerous for pregnant women or those trying to conceive as the virus can cause serious birth defects. According to the CDC, 222 cases of Zika were reported as of March 15, 2017, acquired through local mosquito-borne transmission in Florida and Texas. And because there’s currently no vaccine for Zika, the only way to prevent it is with mosquito bite prevention. Here’s how you can minimize your risk and limit the spread of Zika.

Home Mosquito Control

The best way to prevent mosquito bites when spending time outside this spring and summer is to reduce mosquito populations around your home with a mosquito control program. Usually consisting of monthly treatments, a professional mosquito control program includes:

  • Removal and/or reduction of mosquito resting and breeding sites – any areas that accumulate standing water like planters, toys, bird baths, pet bowls, containers, etc.
  • Larvicide treatments to mosquito breeding sites that cannot be removed, targeting mosquito larvae which inhibits maturity into adult mosquitoes
  • Adulticide treatments to mosquito resting sites – shaded areas, shrubbery, small trees, ivy, etc. – reducing the amount of adult mosquitoes around your home
  • Monthly inspections and recommendations on how to reduce mosquito breeding and resting areas

Other ways you can prevent mosquito bites:

  • Cover arms and legs when spending time outdoors with light, loose-fitting clothing
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your home by identifying entry points like broken, damaged, or missing window and door screens and make necessary repairs
  • Reduce mosquito breeding areas by eliminating any items inside that can accumulate standing water
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone

 

10 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

10 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

Improving the health of your home offers major benefits to your family. Reduce waste, minimize exposure to chemicals & toxins, breathe healthier, lower your risk for sickness, and improve the overall health of your environment with these 10 healthy home tips.

1. Choose Safer Plastics

Most plastics contain chemicals that are added for functionality. Some of these chemicals have been proven to be toxic. It has also been proven that some of these chemicals can leach into food and liquids that are contained in the plastic. While it is unlikely that one can completely avoid plastic altogether, it is important to limit its use with items that are likely to come in contact with the mouth. Most plastics are marked with numbers which indicate the type of plastic used to make the item. Plastics marked with #3 (or “PVC”) contain a toxic chemical that was recently banned in 2009. Plastics marked with #7 (or “PC”)  are usually clear and rigid (e.g. food containers and water bottles). These containers have BPA which can leach into food and water that is in the containers. It is best to avoid plastics with these numbers if at all possible. Glass and ceramic containers are a much healthier option than plastic. However, if glass or ceramic are not available, plastics marked with a #1, 2, 4, or 5 do not contain BPA and are much safer choices than the other plastics mentioned above. Don’t heat plastic containers in the microwave as this releases the chemicals in the plastic. If you can, wash them by hand; if you do put them in the dishwasher, put them on the top shelf as the water is cooler there.

2. Watch What You Eat

Most canned foods are lined with the same chemical, BPA, that was mentioned in tip #1. Try using fresh or frozen foods instead of canned when possible. When buying fresh foods, especially vegetables, try to buy organic as these foods are grown with less pesticides. Check to make sure  your salt is iodized; it helps to maintain thyroid function. Check the mercury content of fish; some fish are considered mercury-rich. It is best to avoid these fish as much as possible, especially if you are pregnant. Use a filter when drinking tap water to remove contaminants and use a stainless steel, reusable water bottle.

3. Check Your Cookware

Avoid non-stick cookware and kitchen utensils if at all possible. If you must use them, try not to overheat them as this converts the toxic particles into gas form and allows them to release into your food. Try to use stainless steel or cast iron cookware and wooden or stainless steel utensils instead.

4. Go Green

Many cleaning products contain chemicals that have been proven to lead to asthma, cancer, and other health issues. Check the ingredients on your cleaning products and opt for “green” products instead as these contain less chemicals than traditional cleaners. Most of these cleaners are marked with a label indicating they are “green certified.” If you must use traditional cleaners, check the label for diluting instructions and use the least amount as necessary to do the job. Consider using natural alternatives to cleaners, like vinegar diluted with water and baking soda, which is a great alternative to window cleaner. Mix baking soda and water to form a paste which can be used to clean ovens and toilets. Dilute vinegar in a bucket of water to mop floors. Green is the way to go when it comes to pesticides, as well.  The saliva, feces, and shedding body parts of cockroaches have been proven to trigger both allergies and asthma. A green pest control program gets rid of pests while maintaining the lowest environmental impact possible, and it’s pet and family-friendly! Mosquitoes transmit a multitude of diseases like Zika, West Nile, malaria, dengue and more. Reduce mosquito bites and lower your risk with mosquito bite prevention and a green mosquito control program – guaranteed to reduce the number of mosquitoes and mosquito breeding sites around your home without harsh chemicals.

5. Clean The Air

Allergies and asthma can also be triggered by pet dander, dust, and other irritants commonly found in your home. Think of your home as an organism and your heating & cooling systems as the breathing mechanisms. The system supplies conditioned air but at the same time it pulls that same air back into the return. This means that the air is being constantly recycled and is picking up particulates from pets, cleaning products and what you cooked for dinner. It’s no wonder it’s polluted. The first step to getting rid of the dust in your home is to dust and vacuum often. Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters are now available that trap and collect more dust and irritants than a regular vacuum cleaner. Follow this up with wet mopping your floors often, as well. Consider investing in an air purifier for your home that’s installed directly onto your current heating and cooling system, making the air inside your home cleaner, fresher and healthier for the whole family.

6. Modify Your Home

Check the age of your home. If it was built prior to 1978 there is a good chance the paint contains lead. Repainting with low VOC paints can reduce your exposure to toxic lead. Does your furniture contain foam? Many foam stuffed items such as mattresses are treated with toxic flame retardants. Check the items carefully to make sure the foam is not exposed and repair or replace if they are. Check your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain toxic mercury which can be harmful to you and your family. Handle them with care, especially when disposing of them. Wooden furniture such as picnic tables and swing sets, as well as wooden decking on the exterior of your home can contain arsenic if built before 2005. Replace with items built after 2005 or seal them to reduce your exposure. Check your crawl spaces in your home. One of the best ways to increase energy efficiency, prevent mold growth, and control pests is to enclose your crawl space. This could save you up to 18% on utility bills! In addition to the crawl space, you should also check the insulation in your attic to see if it’s adequate. If not, consider adding a green insulation product like TAP Insulation which can reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home, conserving energy while significantly reducing energy bills.

7. Take Personal Care

Since we don’t always know what makes up the fragrances of our personal products, consider buying fragrance-free. Does your toothpaste contain fluoride? Fluoride is toxic to children under the age of 2. Use fluoride-free toothpaste for your kids. Check your shower curtain; if it’s vinyl, throw it out. And regardless of the material it’s made of, shower curtains should be left outside for several days before installing in your home. Avoid using products that aren’t absolutely necessary such as hair spray, detanglers, dryer sheets, and fabric softener. Save money while reducing your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals!

8. Maintenance Is Key

Many pests can enter your home in ways that you would never think of. Seal any openings that could be potential pest entry points – utility openings where wires or pipes come into the foundation and areas around gas meters, dryer vents, and outdoor faucets. You can use caulk, expandable foam, copper mesh, or cement to seal these openings. Examine doors and windows.  Be sure to seal any gaps and cracks around windows and doors that would allow pests to enter the home. You can use weather stripping or caulk to seal these problem areas. You can also fit the bottoms of your doors, including your garage doors, with rubber seals. Weather stripping can also be used to seal the bottoms of sliding glass doors. Be sure to examine your screens on doors and windows, as well. Repair any rips/tears that can be fixed and replace the screens that can’t be fixed.  If you have a chimney, make sure you install a chimney cap to keep out birds, bats, and other wildlife. You can also install wire mesh over attic vents to keep out bats, squirrels, and rodents. If you have a woodpile outside, make sure to keep it at least 20 feet from the exterior of your home and elevate the woodpile if possible. Cut back overgrown landscaping 1-2 feet so they are not touching the exterior of your home. You should be able to walk the entire perimeter of your house without touching any landscaping. Lighting also attracts pests, especially around windows and doors; using sodium vapor lighting can help.

9. Wash Your Hands

Hand washing is easy to do and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness. Help stop the spread of germs by washing your hands often, especially during key times, such as before, during, and after preparing food; before eating food; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound; after using the bathroom; after changing diapers; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after touching an animal, animal food, or animal waste; and after touching garbage. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

10. Be Safety Conscious

Keep a distance between flammable objects (papers, curtains, plastics, etc.) and fire sources (oven, stove top, portable heater, etc.). Keep electrical appliances wrapped and away from water. Install smoke detectors, check them regularly, and replace the batteries at least once a year. Avoid overloading outlets and extension cords. Keep fire extinguishers handy and know how to use them.

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