The Worst Kind of Mosquito Bite

Mosquitoes in the Nashville area have tested positive for the West Nile Virus this summer.  This news should cause everyone to want to learn a more about the virus, how it is spread and what can be done to protect your family from any risk of exposure.

West Nile Virus is a type of Flavivirus. These types viruses are responsible for causing dengue, yellow fever and encephalitis. It was first identified in Uganda in 1937 and is common in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East. West Nile virus first became well known in the U.S. in 1999 after an outbreak in New York City. It has now been reported in all US states except Alaska

The West Nile Virus is usually spread by infected Mosquitoes. West Nile Virus has been proven to be spread between mosquitoes and animal hosts, however birds are the most common host of the virus with over 200 species found to be infected. Some birds get sick and show symptoms of the disease, and may die, but others become infected and serve as carriers or hosts while showing no symptoms. House sparrows and crows have been blamed for the majority of carriers, since so many have tested positive for the virus. However, the Robin is actually suspected to be the main host and carrier of West Nile Virus in the United States. Birds have been proven to be able to transmit the disease to other birds, but this is not the case with humans or other mammals. Humans and mammals are considered “dead-end” hosts for West Nile Virus and cannot transmit the disease to others due to our bodies make up of virus fighting antibodies. Since this disease has been shown to change over time, there is a chance that as more mosquitoes feed on mammals, they could eventually become a host to the virus. But for now, all mammals are dead end hosts, with no risk of transmission.

The culprit Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on birds that are infected. After feeding upon the infected birds the virus circulates through their blood until it gets into the mosquitoes salivary glands. Then when the infected Mosquito chooses its next meal, whatever it bites can be injected with the virus. It affects anything that a mosquito chooses to bite including humans and animals. While Mosquitoes can carry the virus during their entire breeding season, early fall is when mosquitoes most likely have the highest levels of the virus.

Most people (80%) that are bitten by infected Mosquitoes have no symptoms of West Nile Virus. However 20% of people that become infected with the virus develop West Nile Fever. Symptoms include headaches, fever, stiff neck, rash, weakness, vomiting and disorientation. Fewer than 1% of people develop more severe symptoms and forms of the virus, such as encephalitis or meningitis. 

With the consequences of becoming infected being a serious concern, what can we do to avoid exposure? The best way is try to avoid Mosquito bites. Inspect the area around your house for any standing water that can be removed, including gutters, buckets, tarps, swimming pools or old tires. Any outside ornaments such as bird baths should be emptied and filled with fresh water regularly.  It is also suggested to use insect repellent, wear light colored long sleeves and pants when outside. 

The best approach is a collaborative effort with Certified Pest Control. Our trained technicians use a special application method that creates a very fine mist. Once a mosquito lands on this area, it will come in contact with the product and die in a short time. Most homeowners experience an 80 – 90% reduction in the mosquito population within a few treatments. The product is applied each month during the spring, summer and early fall.