Mosquitoes – A Public Health Concern

The American Mosquito Control Association has designated June 20th – 26th, 2021, as National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. Over one million people die from mosquito-borne illnesses every year. Mosquitoes transmit diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, malaria, yellow fever, and Zika to human hosts. Uninfected individuals can easily become infected if bitten by infected mosquitoes.

 Humans are not the only ones that suffer from mosquito-borne diseases. Dogs and horses are also susceptible to a range of diseases carried by mosquitoes. Heartworm, West Nile virus (WNV), and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) are potentially fatal to animals and are all acquired through mosquito bites.

Protecting your families, pets, and communities against mosquito-borne illness begins with eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, especially those in and around the home. Mosquito larvae are aquatic, so adult female mosquitoes lay their eggs on the water’s surface. The ideal breeding ground facilitates sheltered, stagnant water. Therefore, preventing the growth of new mosquito populations can be achieved by simple, inexpensive measures focused on eliminating stagnant water sources.

Here are some actions you can take to prevent mosquitoes from breeding:

1. Find and eliminate sources of standing water.

Walk around your backyard and look for any items that can potentially accumulate water when it rains. Tires, plant pots, buckets, pet bowls, barbecue grills, empty flower pots, etc., can potentially store water when it rains. If you aren’t using these items regularly, they create the perfect untouched environment for mosquito larvae to thrive. Ensure that you properly dispose of items you no longer want and securely store others where they won’t collect water. You may even consider drilling small holes in some of them to ensure that water will not collect if it rains.

2. Pay attention to water barrels and containers.

If you use barrels, buckets, troughs, or any other type of containers to store water, you need to ensure that they are tightly covered so mosquitoes cannot enter. Regularly checking covers for security, cracks, or gaps is advisable. Furthermore, you should empty these containers and wash them with soap frequently (every seven days) to ensure that in the event mosquito eggs are present, they do not get a chance to develop. These recommendations also apply to pet bowls and birdbaths!

3. Clean gutters and drains.

Leaves and debris can accumulate in gutters, drains, and drainage pipes, creating the perfect wet and sheltered environment for mosquitoes to breed. Cleaning and maintaining drains and gutters will save you and your neighbors from unwanted mosquito populations and improve the overall cleanliness of your environment!

 

These simple measures cost almost nothing but can save lives. If we all do our part to eliminate mosquitoes at their source, we can drastically reduce mosquito-related infections and mortality every year and protect the health of our communities.

NextGenU.org also offers courses that will enhance your knowledge of vector-borne diseases. Browse our Climate Change in Public Health course to learn how a changing climate influences mosquito-borne diseases. Alternatively, you can take our shorter introductory climate change course. You can also take our Burden of Disease course to understand the consequences of vector-borne diseases for population health and develop treatment, prevention, and control measures to combat this issue. You can enroll, study, take assessments and gain a certificate of completion for all of these courses at no cost, or you can simply browse and learn for personal enrichment.

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