Mosquitos and the dangers they pose

Nearly a million people and countless animals are killed by mosquito-borne illnesses every year. And so, on August 20, we participate in National Mosquito Day to raise awareness of how these diseases impact us, and how we can reduce risks.

Here are some of the biggest diseases:

West Nile Virus. Awareness of West Nile Virus has increased drastically in the past two decades, and people are taking preventive measures more than ever. The virus’s natural host is birds, but mosquitoes transfer it to other species. Symptoms for humans include fever, aches, rashes and swollen lymph nodes. In humans as well as animals like horses, serious symptoms include loss of coordination, muscle stiffness or weakness and paralysis.

Eastern and western equine encephalitis. Horse owners have to be wary of encephalitis, a neurologic disease caused by viruses, otherwise known as “sleeping sickness.” Like West Nile Virus, this disease is normally found in birds, but is spread around by mosquitoes. It also comes with a fever and neurologic symptoms like muscle weakness and paralysis. Eastern equine encephalitis is up to 90% fatal, with western equine encephalitis being less so.

Heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is a big concern for pet owners. It causes severe lung problems, heart failure and other organ damage, and is very often deadly. It’s caused by a parasitic roundworm that mosquitoes spread with their bites. The heartworm, once it infects an animal, releases its offspring into the bloodstream. The offspring matures over a period of about six months.

Zika virus. Big in the news lately, Zika virus is known for its potential to cause birth defects when passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Zika virus is spread mostly by the bite of a particular species of mosquito: Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus.

Chikungunya. This disease causes fever and joint pain, and sometimes headaches, muscle pains or rashes. The virus is not usually deadly but can become severe in some cases.

Dengue. Dengue is a leading cause of illness and death in tropical and subtropical parts of the world, with nearly 400 million people infected yearly. The virus causes a high fever, severe headaches, joint paint, rashes, mild gum or nose bleeding and low white cell count.

Vaccines exist for some of the above diseases, but that doesn’t stop mosquito control from being instrumental in protecting humans and animals alike. Mosquitoes like damp environments with standing water, the preferred habitat for laying eggs. Standing water can be treated with larvacides to inhibit the growth of mosquito populations, stopping mosquitoes right in their tracks.

Other insecticides can be applied in and around the home, garden, farm, ranch or anywhere where there are people and animals present. Just as humans have bug spray, there are even insecticidal sprays and pastes that can be applied directly to an animal’s body. Products such as fly sheets and masks can also serve as protective barriers for horses.

Neogen manufactures products like the ProZap LarvaGuard Mosquito Larvicide Granule, Prozap War Paint for horses, and others. See our website for our full line of insect control solutions.

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