Mosquito-borne Diseases in Central Florida
There’s nothing worse than the high-pitched whine of a hungry mosquito. These airborne pests can ruin the best outdoor party or central Florida gathering and are one of the most common reasons our pest control professionals are called to assist homeowners. Because removal and prevention of Mosquitos is one of the best investments you can make in improving your outdoor living space it’s a popular and smart investment. Not only do these annoying pests pack a nasty punch and leave you scratching irritating bug-bites, mosquitos are known to carry numerous diseases so making your backyard sanctuary mosquito-free is a matter of health and safety.
In central Florida the most common diseases carried and transmitted by mosquitoes are:
- West Nile Virus Disease: A mosquito-borne flavivirus which can cause illness ranging from mild to severe. West Nile Virus originated in Africa and was first introduced to the US in 1999, arriving in Florida shortly thereafter – in 2001. The virus is now considered endemic in the US and every year several parts of the country reach epidemic status, typically in late summer. In central Florida the peak period of transmission occurs from July through September. While most infections (~80%) are asymptomatic those that do develop symptoms show signs of mild illness often called West Nile Fever (WNF). These are characterized by fever, pain, fatigue and headaches.
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis: This virus was identified in humans in 1938 and it cycles between mosquitos and birds in swampy areas. A 2012 study also shows evidence that wild snakes may harbor the virus through the winter, acting as a bridge in disease transmission from one season to the next. People who contract Eastern Equine Encephalitis exhibit severe illness and are considered terminal or dead-end hosts of the disease (the viral load is full so it cannot be passed back to mosquitoes). Most people who contract this disease in central Florida do so between May and August each year. Symptoms reveal themselves within 3-10 days of a mosquito bite and include sudden-onset fever, muscle pain and headache. It’s common for these symptoms to increase in severity over the course of 1-2 weeks. In the worst cases symptoms progress to seizures, vomiting and neurological deficits and 30-45% of people with encephalitis caused by EEEV will die … making it one of the most severe mosquito-borne diseases in the US. Many who do recover will suffer lasting effects from the illness.
- St. Louis Encephalitis: A mosquito-borne flavivirus, SLEV is perpetuated in a cycle between mosquitos and birds and prior to the arrival of West Nile Virus this was the most common mosquito-borne virus in the US. The good news is that thanks to aggressive pest control measures there have been no cases in central Florida since 2003. When a mosquito carrying the infection bites a human symptoms are evident within 4-21 days of the bite. Many times the infection is mild and symptoms are dismissed by the infected person but the symptoms range from a fever and headaches to meningitis. A worst case scenario involves the onset of a coma and people over the age of 50 are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease. In 1990 there were 223 cases of SLE in Florida but the low occurrence in recent years seems to indicate that the West Nile Virus has offered birds a degree of immunity which has made the prevalence of St. Louis Encephalitis decrease significantly in central Florida.
The best defense against mosquito-borne diseases in central Florida is attention to your property, removal of standing water which can be a breeding ground for mosquitos and engaging with a reputable local pest control service. Sunstate Pest Management offers an affordable method of reducing the amount of flying insects and mosquitos around your home which can improve the safety and quality of life for you and your family in addition to helping to prevent harmful mosquito-borne illnesses. Whether you’re interested in spot treatments for specific outdoor gatherings or our affordable monthly treatments for continued protection, our skilled pest control servicemen and servicewomen offer a range of solutions to help keep your home pest-free.