It is the season for grilling outdoors and sitting outside in the evenings reflecting on the day events. It is a time to enjoy the outdoors when the sun has gone down and the heat has dissipated. However, this brings about feeding time for a pesky insect called a mosquito who loves to bite and feed on human blood. We all have endured the swelling and itching of a mosquito bite. We usually do not realize we have been dinner for a mosquito until we notice the itching on our skin.
There are 80 different types of mosquitos in the state of Florida which is more than any other state. Of these 33 can cause problems for man and or animals. 13 are capable of carrying pathogens that cause disease in man and in animals. Some of these diseases can potentially be fatal or cause permanent damage to humans and animals. The following is just a “short list” of diseases that can be transmitted to humans and animals.
Zika Virus – Symptoms are usually mild, but severe complications including serious birth defects and various neurological and autoimmune complications can result from infection with the virus. Currently, there are no vaccines or medications available to prevent infection.
Dengue -It is the most important arboviral disease of humans, affecting 50-100 million persons annually. The word dengue is a Spanish attempt at the Swahili phrase ki denga pepo which describes a cramp-like seizure.
Chikungunya – In India, it is known as Aakyda, meaning “stiff man” and Maakyda meaning “monkey-like”. These words refer to the arthritic condition that occurs in some patients which gives rise to a stooped posture.
West Nile Virus – West Nile (WN) virus is carried by mosquitoes and if transmitted to humans, it can cause severe encephalitis. It is closely related to St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) virus which is sometimes a problem in Florida.
St. Louis encephalitis – St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus is a flavivirus that is transmitted to humans and other vertebrates primarily by mosquitoes of the genus Culex. The clinical spectrum of human SLE infection includes an apparent infection, mild illness (febrile with a headache), aseptic meningitis, and encephalitis which can progress to coma and death. In apparent infection is most common in the young, whereas encephalitis, especially that progressing to coma and death, is more common in the elderly.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis –Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a viral disease transmitted to horses and humans by mosquitoes. Birds are the source of infection for mosquitoes. The virus is found along the east coast from New England to Florida, the Gulf Coast, and some Midwestern areas. Symptoms develop from four to ten days after infection. In horses, they include unsteadiness, erratic behavior and a marked loss of coordination. There is no effective treatment and seizures resulting in death usually occur within 48-72 hours. Most people that are infected with the virus have no symptoms; others get only a mild flu-like illness with fever, headache, and sore throat. When serious infection of the central nervous system occurs, a sudden fever and severe headache can be followed quickly by seizures and coma which often result in death or permanent brain damage.
Prevention, of course, is the best cure. Make sure you don’t have standing water of any kind that they love to breed in. Wear long sleeves and proper clothing. Of course many like to go with no shirt, tank tops, and shorts. You need to apply a good insect repellant to your clothing or bare skin. Sitting in a screened or netted porch is good. If you should become the dinner meal for mosquitos and notice fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, neck pain or cramping in a few days to two weeks see your Primary Care Provider immediately. (Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, 2018)
Wade Smith, RN, MSN FNP-C
Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. (2018, May 25). Retrieved from University of Florida Extension: http://mosquito.ifas.ufl.edu/Mosquito_borne_Diseases.htm