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Mosquitoborne Illness

Mosquitoborne infections occur when a mosquito that is carrying a virus or a parasite bites a person and makes them sick. There are 60 different types (species) of mosquitoes in Oklahoma and 230 species in the United States. There are many types of mosquitoes that live across the world that also spread disease to humans. Not all mosquitoes carry viruses or parasites that make people sick.

Diseases transmitted by the bite of a mosquito include West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, LaCrosse encephalitis, or Western Equine encephalitis, and malaria. Mosquitoes pick up the organism when they feed on infected animals. The organism is then transmitted to animals or humans while feeding.

Some of these mosquitoes that transmit pathogens are found in other parts of the world. Yellow fever is found in South America as well as in Africa. There is a vaccine that travelers may get to protect them from becoming sick. Dengue Fever is found in Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific (area off of east Asia.) Malaria is another mosquitoborne disease that is caused by a parasite that infects the blood. It is currently a problem in tropical or subtropical areas of Asia, Africa and Central and South America. Travelers to these areas should talk with their doctors about taking prescription medication to prevent them from getting malaria.

Howto prevent mosquito bites:

  • The best way to prevent mosquito bites is to wear insect repellant containing an active ingredient such as 10% to 30% DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus [(p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)], to exposed skin and clothing when outdoors. It is important to always follow labeled directions for proper use. Medical experts recommend applying repellent with low concentrations (10%) of DEET to infants over 2 months old. Many experts believe that DEET is the best active ingredient to prevent mosquito bites from mosquitoes that cause malaria since it is known to provide long-lasting protection.
  • Prevent items such as buckets and tarps from holding standing water.
  • If rainwater is collected, cover and seal containers when not collecting rain.
  • Empty your outdoor pet's water bowl and refill daily.
  • Rinse, scrub, and refill birdbaths weekly.
  • Empty plastic wading pools weekly and store indoors when not in use.
  • Maintain swimming pools and outdoor hot tubs regularly as recommended by manufacturer.
  • Store boats covered or upside down.
  • For a water garden or ornamental body of water, use an environmentally safe product to kill the larvae, e.g. BTI, or stock with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
  • Regularly clean fallen leaves and debris from roof gutters.
  • Trim grass and weeds and dismantle brush to deprive mosquitoes of a habitat.
  • Repair or replace all broken or torn window and door screens.
  • Repair leaky lawn irrigation spouts.

Please use the links for additional information about selected mosquitoborne illnesses:

ADS Resources:
St. Louis Encephalitis
West Nile Virus

Yellow Fever

Other Resources:
Mayo Clinic - Mosquito Bites: What is a Normal Skin Reaction
Mayo Clinic - Mosquitoes: Don't Let Them Ruin Your Outdoor Activities

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