ARE THERE WAYS WE CAN PROTECT OURSELVES FROM MOSQUITOES CARRYING DEADLY DISEASES?

Oct 26, 2017 by

The world’s deadliest animal doesn’t have claws or fangs. It isn’t larger or stronger than you— it isn’t even a predator. Any idea what we’re talking about? It’s the mosquito.

Each year mosquitos spread diseases like Zika and malaria through the blood they transfer between hosts. When a mosquito bites a host infected with a blood-borne virus, the mosquito then has the potential to spread the same disease to every subsequent host. Over a million deaths are attributed to mosquitos every year, the majority from malaria.

There is no immediate cause for panic — neither malaria nor any of the other mosquito-spread diseases present severe health epidemics to America — but there are some easy steps for preventing inconvenient and potentially dangerous mosquito bites.

Long sleeves/pants

During the summer months, especially if you live in a marshy area, long sleeves and pants are an effective first step to preventing bites. Mosquitos breed in stagnant water, so think twice about tromping down your local swamp trail in your shorts and cutoffs.

Also, keep in mind: global temperatures are rising, allowing certain breeds of mosquitos to take up residence in new areas around the U.S. Nobody likes sunburns… or yellow fever. Covering exposed skin prevents both.

Camphor

If you live or spend time near still water — the pond in your backyard, for instance — there’s a good chance mosquitos will get into your house, especially if a couple thousand are hatching in your proximity every day. Getting bitten while you sleep can be a miserable experience, and camphor will do wonders for you.

This oil naturally repels mosquitos, and lighting up a camphor candle inside your house will keep the suckers at bay. Make sure to bring a candle camping: camphor in addition to bug spray will make any mosquito wary.

Bug Spray

Here’s the obvious one. Proper use of bug spray will keep all insect bites, mosquitos included, to a minimum. Make sure to apply it periodically, particularly to exposed areas. There is a wide range of aerosols and liquid sprays, some of which target mosquitos directly. You’ll want to read the bottle first, as some sprays can cause irritation if applied directly to skin.

Screens

Again, this one is pretty self-explanatory. If mosquitos have been getting into your house, one of the first steps should be closing off their access points. Screens over your windows — especially those you keep open during the summer months — is the easiest and most efficient way to accomplish this. The same goes for sliding doors and basically any other avenue to the outdoors.

Professional Help

If your land is housing a festering nest of mosquitos, sometimes prevention isn’t enough. Professionals have a diverse range of methods for getting rid of these pests. While some of the options include chemicals, if the population is detected early enough in the season, there are also chemical-free alternatives that target the larva population.

On a larger scale

This list has focused primarily on tips for personal prevention of mosquito bites. However, specific factors make avoiding mosquitos a practical impossibility.

Haiti, in particular, is a concern today: floodwater sitting in residential areas is prime breeding territory. More time is usually spent outside following the storm to repair damage, bringing the population in closer contact with mosquitos. Following these necessary steps can help mitigate the risk of increased exposure.

In addition to similar preventative steps and professional/government initiatives, spreading awareness is extremely important. In this vein, there’s an upcoming contest to decide on the new emoji inclusions for next year’s smartphones. Up as a finalist: the mosquito! Through this emoji, health care specialists hope to spread awareness of the growing mosquito problem.

Bio:

Emily is freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.

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