New Mosquito Borne Illness Concerns Pest Management Professionals in Virginia
Fredericksburg, VA – June 17, 2014
VPMA-New Mosquito Borne Illness-June 17 2014
A painful, mosquito-borne viral illness has surfaced across the United States, carried by recent travelers to the Caribbean where the virus is raging.
Chikungunya, a viral infection transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, originated in southeast Africa and was first described in Tanzania in 1952. Subsequently, it has spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has become well established in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and islands of the Indian and Pacific Ocean.
But it all changed in 2013, when health experts found that sustained transmission of the chikungunya virus had occurred in the Caribbean, meaning people on the islands were starting to become infected by local mosquitos. Now the virus is wide spread with up to 17 different countries in the Caribbean reporting cases of the disease.
Typical symptoms of Chikungunya infection include the rapid onset of severe joint pains (especially in the hands and feet) and fever. In fact, the name “Chikungunya” derives from a word in the Kimakonde language of south east Africa, meaning “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint
pain. Symptoms start four to eight days after the mosquito bite (range from two to 12 days). Infected persons can also have headache, muscle pain, rash and joint swelling. Generally, symptoms resolve after one week, although some people may experience long-term joint pain. Chikungunya is generally not fatal, but the painful
symptoms have led people to say “It won’t kill you, but it may make you wish you were dead!”
Health officials in North Carolina, Nebraska and Indiana this week reported the first confirmed chikungunya cases in those states, along with Tennessee, which has suspected cases.
Florida’s 25 cases account for the majority reported in the United States, according to state health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The cases in the continental United States have not been transmitted by local mosquitoes, which would raise the threat.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency said this week the number of confirmed and suspected cases had risen to 135,651, up from just over 100,000 on June 2. The virus has been detected in 20 countries and territories, with the largest outbreak of suspected cases in the Dominican Republic. Health officials in the Dominican Republic said they detected more than 77,000 suspected cases since the virus reached the country five and half months ago, including 20,000 new suspected cases in the last week alone, according to the Public Health Ministry.
Chikungunya, West Nile virus and other public health threats have become an issue in Virginia and across the United States in recent years. Citizens are asking what they can do to protect themselves, even in their own backyards.
To help address these concerns, the Virginia Pest Management Association (VPMA), along with its national partner, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has developed a website at www.pestworld.com to provide consumers with information about management and control of mosquito populations. In addition,
www.vpmaonline.com has a referral service of VPMA member companies for consumers needing a professional pest management firm.
National Pest Management Association Urges Americans to Take Precautions Against the Health Threats Posed by These Pests
FAIRFAX Va. – As the summer season approaches and Americans begin spending more time outdoors, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds the public that prevention is critical in avoiding the spread of vector-borne diseases transmitted by pests such as mosquitoes and ticks. With rising temperatures and an increase in rainfall throughout much of the country comes a predicted increase in mosquito and tick populations, which means a heightened threat of the transmission of common diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus and many others.
Lyme disease and West Nile virus infect thousands of Americans each year and are a growing concern, especially in light of the CDC’s 2013 news that Lyme disease is ten times more common than previously reported. However, other lesser-known vector-borne diseases, such as the Heartland virus, babesiosis, and dengue fever, are found around the country in smaller numbers, with the highest numbers of cases reported during the warmer summer months. These diseases are transmitted when a mosquito or tick bites and feeds on the blood of its host, making it critical for steps to be taken to avoid being bitten in the first place. For Americans spending time enjoying their summer vacation in their backyards or traveling abroad, this means taking the time to brush up on the most effective means of prevention.
“It is essential that Americans understand how to protect themselves and their families, recognize the signs and symptoms of these diseases, and seek immediate medical attention if they are experiencing signs of infection,” said Dr. Jorge Parada, medical spokesperson for the NPMA. “Common early signs of Lyme disease include one or more bull’s-eye rashes anywhere on the body, joint pain, chills, fever, fatigue and headache. When it comes to West Nile virus, symptoms could include fever, headache and loss of appetite, or in more severe cases confusion and increasing weakness, although in 80 percent of cases, people may display little to no symptoms at all.”
According to the NPMA, the top five ways to protect against mosquito and tick-borne illnesses include:
- Conduct a daily check for ticks: A blacklegged deer tick, the type of tick known for carrying Lyme disease, takes at least 24 hours to transmit the disease. That’s why performing a daily, thorough check for ticks after spending time outdoors is essential in preventing the transmission of the disease. Just as important is knowing what to look for — and what to do if a tick is found. Blacklegged deer tick nymphs are typically around the size and color of a poppy seed, and if found should be removed right away using fine-tipped tweezers. Once removed, clean the area with soap, water and an antiseptic.
- Protect Your Skin: While it may be uncomfortable when temperatures soar, wearing long sleeves and pants in light colors can protect against mosquito and tick bites and can make checking for these pests much easier. Consider tucking pants into socks or investing in clothing pretreated with permethrin for an extra level of protection. In addition, always use an insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus when spending time outdoors or traveling, especially in areas known to have increased mosquito and tick populations.
- Inspect Your Property: Take a walk around your property to identify areas that may be conducive to mosquitoes and ticks. Keep patios and play areas away from shrubs, bushes and other vegetation and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to detract ticks. Eliminate sources of standing water such as in birdbaths, flowerpots, grill covers and baby pools and screen all windows and doors, repairing even the smallest holes that could serve as entry points for pests.
- Protect Your Pets: Avoid walking pets in tall grass where there is a greater chance of ticks hitching a ride and check pets frequently for ticks, especially after the animal has been outside. Consult with a veterinarian about prevention and treatment options available to pets and wash pet bedding and toys frequently.
- Avoid Peak Activity Times: Mosquito activity is at its peak during dawn and dusk, so be sure to reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors during those times of day. If you must be outside during those times, consider staying inside a screened-in porch or dressing in clothing that leaves very little exposed skin. The best protection is insect repellent, which will help ward off both mosquitoes and ticks.