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Diseases Mosquitoes CarryPosted May 26, 2022

Mosquitoes are among nature’s most annoying pests. They interrupt your outdoor activities, drone around your head as you try to sleep at night, and cause ugly, itchy bites. Far worse than their uncanny ability to be irritating… mosquitoes are the world’s most deadly animal. And they can transmit serious diseases to you, your family, and your pets.

What Diseases Do Mosquitoes Carry in New England?

Worldwide, there are numerous mosquito-borne diseases, and some of these – like Zika virus, Dengue fever, Malaria, and Chikungunya – have found their way to the United States, either through regional spread or through travel to areas where they are common.

In New England, however, there are mainly two that are of significant concern to humans:

  • West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne illness in the United States. Luckily, most people who contract West Nile virus show no symptoms at all.

    Approximately 20 percent of those with West Nile virus develop flu-like symptoms: headache, body aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. These individuals typically make a full recovery, although they may experience fatigue or weakness that lasts for weeks or months.

    It is rare but some West Nile virus cases become serious or fatal – when the disease impacts the brain, spinal cord, or central nervous system. This is more likely to occur in those who are older than 60, suffer from chronic illness, are immune-compromised, or have had an organ transplant. There is currently no treatment or vaccine for West Nile virus, so preventing infection is the best defense.

  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a mosquito-transmitted virus that can cause severe health complications or death. It is relatively rare in this region… but the threat must be taken seriously. In Massachusetts, the Eastern Saltmarsh Mosquito (Aedes sollicitans) is a highly effective carrier of EEE.

    Initial symptoms of eastern equine encephalitis include high fever, stiff neck, headache, and lethargy, and may progress to encephalitis (swelling of the brain), seizures, and coma. There is no treatment for the virus. It has a very high fatality rate, and those who survive it may be permanently disabled.

Mosquito-borne diseases aren’t limited to human populations. In New England – as in many other parts of the U.S. – domestic animals like dogs and horses are particularly susceptible to mosquito-transmitted illnesses. They can contract both West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis. Dogs also are susceptible to heartworm – a potentially fatal mosquito-transmitted disease – where worms that can grow to a foot long infest an animal’s heart, lungs, and other organs, causing lasting damage or death if left untreated.

Where Has EEE Been Found in Massachusetts?

Eastern equine encephalitis has received a lot of press coverage in recent years due to its severity and high fatality rate. Since 2019, cases of EEE have been found in Bristol, Plymouth, Norfolk, and Franklin counties.

It is carried primarily by mosquitoes in swampy areas, but EEE can occur anywhere in the state. It is relatively rare, but we are just now completing an outbreak cycle that happens every 10-20 years. Precautions must be taken to protect people and animals from mosquitoes that are potential carriers.

Fox Pest Control Is Here For You

If you’re concerned about mosquitoes, our expert technicians can provide peace of mind and help to protect your family’s health. Whether you have a mosquito problem in your yard already or you’re looking for preventative treatment to keep future infestations under control, Fox Pest Control can help. If you have a mosquito problem, contact us today for more information or to schedule treatment.

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