Zeroing in on the potential health threats from mosquitoes — and ticks
With the abundance of mosquitoes and ticks lurking in yards throughout the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro area, the biggest problem beyond the bite and nuisance is the potential serious health threat to your family, your friends — and even your pets. Mosquitoes can transmit life-threatening diseases like West Nile virus, encephalitis and heartworm to humans, birds and animals. While the hard-to-spot deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease.
West Nile virus
Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes then can transmit West Nile virus to humans, animals — and back to birds. They inject the virus through their saliva into the blood stream where it multiplies and causes serious and potentially fatal illness. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota and Anoka counties combined had 23 confirmed findings of West Nile virus mosquito pools in 2008. Fortunately due to mosquito control efforts, that number was down significantly from the 71 West Nile virus pools found in the same four counties in 2007. With no vaccine yet available, every effort to avoid contracting this disease is necessary.
La Crosse encephalitis
Largely attributed to the “Treehole” mosquitoes (mosquitoes that breed in tree holes, old tires, bottles, bottle caps, buckets, cups, etc.) and the more aggressive Japanese rock pool mosquitoes (that are also daytime biters), La Crosse encephalitis is a serious disease that affects the central nervous system and can be fatal. It has no treatment other than supportive care. Children under the age of 16 are most seriously affected by it. The first recognized case came in 1963 when an infected child in Houston, Minn., was admitted to a hospital in La Crosse, Wis., and died from the complications. It was then discovered to be a disease contracted by mosquitoes. Other variants of this disease are Eastern and Western equine encephalitis. While these variants are found more commonly in horses than humans, there have been human-infection cases reported in Minnesota.
Caused by a microscopic spiral bacteria transmitted by infected deer ticks, Lyme disease is a serious rising health concern in Minnesota. In a report from the Minnesota Department of Health, Lyme disease has increased dramatically year-to-year since the first 94 reported cases in 1986. In the past 22 years, there have been over 8,700 reported cases in Minnesota. Because deer ticks are about the size of a pinhead, they are extremely difficult to see and sometimes may appear to be a mole on your skin. The longer the deer tick is allowed to feed, the higher the chances are for infection. Once infected with the bacteria, it can spread through your body within several days or weeks causing rashes, headaches, joint pain, and possible inflammation of the heart or nerves. Fortunately, antibiotics are available to treat the disease once detected. Early detection is the key.
Most commonly found in dogs and cats, heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that can grow to about six inches and lives in the heart and arteries of the lungs. The adult worms produce thousands of microscopic baby worms that enter the bloodstream and are then sucked up by mosquitoes feeding on infected animals. After reaching infection larval stage in the mosquitoes, the worms are re-introduced to their principal animal hosts like dogs, cats, ferrets, and, in rare cases, humans. In their host, they mature, breed and start the cycle all over again. Heartworms, which can live up to 7 years, will cause serious health issues, with the potential for death, if gone untreated. Treatment is available for dogs, except for advanced cases, through an injected drug that kills the heartworm. There is no treatment for cats.
With these potential health threats from mosquitoes and ticks, it's important to protect your family, your friends and your pets. All it takes is one call to MOSQUITO PATROL. With swift and sure aim, our licensed mosquito control professionals stop mosquitoes dead in their tracks and set up an invisible wall of pest protection that lasts up to three weeks. Efficient. Effective. Safe. Guaranteed!
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