It’s that time of year when mosquitoes and ticks are in full force – even more so this year than recent years. Because we had a mild winter with plenty of snow, mosquitoes and ticks were well-insulated throughout the cold weather. The high snow totals also meant there was plenty of moisture when spring came, making conditions ideal for mosquito breeding.
More mosquitoes and ticks obviously mean that the likelihood of catching diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile are even greater. And now, two more viruses were identified in Wisconsin and other parts of the United States.
Here’s your update on what’s new with mosquitoes and ticks in 2018:
The latest in mosquito viruses has been identified in Florida and is known as the Keystone virus. The initial cause for concern actually happened in 2016 when a 16-year-old was hospitalized after coming down with a rash and high fever. After testing for multiple different pathogens, doctors finally realized the cause a year and a half later.
Keystone has existed in animal population since as early as 1964, and has now jumped to humans. It is expected to be fairly common in Florida, with typically mild symptoms such as a slight fever and rash. However, Keystone is part of a group of several viruses that are known to cause encephalitis – or inflammation of the brain. So far, this symptom hasn’t been reported in humans. The disease is carried by the Aedes atlanticus mosquito, a cousin of the Zika carrying Aedes aeggypti.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
The tick-borne disease known as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is not actually new. However, it is incredibly rare… and incredibly deadly. Cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever have been reported throughout the United States, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma and more. It can occur anywhere, and unfortunately it affected a Wisconsin woman, just a few weeks ago.
Multiple tick species can carry this disease, including American dog ticks, Rocky Mountain woods ticks and brown dog ticks. Symptoms occur within the first 7-14 days after infection and include rash, high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea and confusion.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever weakens the lining of blood vessels, causing them to leak and form blood clots. This can result in brain inflammation, inflammation of the heart and lungs, kidney failure, serious infections to extremities (sometimes leading to amputation) and death.
West Nile Update
West Nile virus was recently discovered in a bird in Dane Country, Wisconsin. This is not the first time West Nile virus has appeared in Wisconsin – last year there were roughly 48 reported cases in the state. Fortunately, no human cases have been reported so far in Wisconsin this year.
However, it does mean we should be taking extra precautions to protect ourselves from bites this year. Mosquitoes typically get the virus by feeding on infected birds and pass it on to other mammals and birds after infection. Its presence in Wisconsin means that the disease may be spreading and that we should be wary when spending time outdoors.
Tick and mosquito viruses are showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, the CDC reports that vector-borne diseases (spread by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas) have nearly tripled since 2004. These tiny pests account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases and cause more than 700,000 deaths annually around the globe according to the World Health Organization.
They may be small, but these insects can ruin time spent outdoors – even in your own backyard. Besides wearing bug spray and long sleeves, you can prevent these pests from becoming established in your yard by taking advantage of Wil-Kil’s mosquito and tick control program. Wil-Kil’s monthly visits provide protection all summer long and allow you to enjoy time spent outdoors without worrying about bites.
Click here for more information on our mosquito/tick control offering.