Reduce Mosquito-Borne Diseases with Disease Testing

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How Data Collection and Testing Help Reduce Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes are known to transmit several dangerous diseases that can pose a threat to human health. In the United States, mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, and dengue have all caused significant harm to communities nationwide – making the prevention of mosquito-borne diseases crucial for helping keep citizens safe. 

Proactively reducing the spread of these diseases starts with effective mosquito surveillance as part of an Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) plan. Once adult mosquitoes are collected from various traps, they are sorted, identified, and analyzed in a lab where they undergo several tests, including disease testing. By testing adult mosquitoes for diseases, we can identify areas where disease-carrying mosquitoes are present and take appropriate action to reduce their population – ultimately reducing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases

VDCI lab testing vial mosquito control education

How Mosquito-Borne Disease Testing Works

Integrated Mosquito Management plans require extensive knowledge of mosquito species, breeding activities, and population dynamics to be successful. By conducting regular adult mosquito surveillance, experts can steadily monitor local populations, allowing us to detect mosquito-borne diseases weeks before they can be transmitted to humans or animals. Here’s how the disease testing process works:

  1. Our expert entomologists strategically set adult mosquito traps throughout a given area. Various mosquito traps are used depending on what information is desired. Each trap has its own unique advantages, many attract specific mosquito species, thereby focusing efforts to collect certain mosquito species that are more likely to carry disease. Traps are typically set weekly for regular population monitoring.

  2. Once a mosquito sample is collected, our entomologists will take them back to the lab for mosquito-borne disease testing.

  3. To identify which diseases are present in mosquito populations, our laboratory technicians will run PCR and RAMP® WNv tests. PCR tests allow us to detect different pathogens that are present inside the mosquito, while RAMP® tests are designed to detect West Nile virus, a commonly found mosquito-borne disease in the U.S.

  4. If a mosquito sample tests positive for any mosquito-borne diseases, our entomologists will report the results to all appropriate local and state health departments. With this data, experts can determine the severity of a disease outbreak and respond with effective mosquito management solutions. This often involves returning to the area where the sample was collected and employing adult and larval mosquito control efforts. 
surveillance and disease testing - lab testing - mosquito control - vdci - vector management - markets served

Testing Best Practices

Mosquito-borne disease testing is crucial for helping support effective and environmentally responsible mosquito control. It’s important to follow industry best practices when testing mosquitoes for diseases such as West Nile and malaria. 

  1. Test mosquitoes regularly to ensure we detect the presence of mosquito-borne diseases in a timely manner. 

  2. Test mosquitoes trapped in various parts of the community to ensure we are casting a wide net for mosquito surveillance in the whole community. 

  3. Use mosquito-borne disease testing results to drive IMM programs and reduce the spread of disease. 

When a mosquito pool tests positive for a disease, the results of these tests are immediately communicated to government and health officials. This allows decision-makers to act quickly to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases within their communities. By following these best practices, we can arm public officials with the knowledge they need to make control decisions to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases

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Why Mosquito-Borne Disease Testing and Surveillance Matters

Mosquito-borne diseases can have severe consequences on the health and well-being of our communities nationwide. These diseases are transmitted through mosquito bites and can cause symptoms ranging from fever, rash, and neurological problems. Mosquito-borne disease testing and mosquito surveillance provide data and insights to drive a more effective IMM plan that works to reduce mosquito breeding sites and control both nuisance and disease-carrying mosquitoes.

A successful IMM program involves more than mosquito-borne disease testing. Several key pillars, including adult mosquito and larval surveillance, employing a variety of control strategies, and implementing public education within the community, are all part of a comprehensive program’s success. Citizens can help reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases by following the 4Ds: Defend, Dress, Drain, and Dusk & Dawn. Applying an EPA-approved mosquito repellent and wearing close-toe shoes, light-colored clothing, and long sleeves and pants while outdoors can significantly protect you from mosquito bites. Draining any standing water that could be a potential mosquito breeding site significantly reduces the mosquito population and the application of insecticides. In addition, limiting your outdoor exposure time, especially from dusk to dawn when mosquitos are most active, will lessen your chances of being bitten. When a comprehensive IMM program is established, it will protect public health and keep our communities safe. 

Importance of Integrated Mosquito Management

Our scientific experts at VDCI have the experience, knowledge, and equipment required to implement a comprehensive IMM plan. A proactive approach to mosquito surveillance reduces mosquito-borne diseases and provides adequate time to respond to disease threats before becoming a serious issue to the public. With our industry-leading experts guiding mosquito management strategies in the communities we serve, you can rest assured that your citizens are protected.

Contact Our Experts

Complete the form below to speak to an expert about your community’s mosquito management needs.

VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

2023 Mosquito-Borne Disease Year In Review

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Exploring the Impact of Mosquito-Borne Diseases In 2023

In recent years, the United States has experienced an increase in the abundance and distribution of mosquito-borne diseases. The expansion of mosquito habitats, fueled by climate change, urban development, and other human-related factors poses considerable risks to public health. The need for increased vigilance and proactive strategies is clear in the 2023 data reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, which indicates a resurgence of locally acquired malaria, a dramatic increase in West Nile virus cases, and shifts in the distribution of diseases like La Crosse encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, dengue, Jamestown Canyon virus, and St. Louis encephalitis. In our 2023 review, we analyze the details of each disease, including case counts, notable trends, and the potential impact on public health.

*Please note, at the time of publishing this information, mosquito-borne disease-related deaths have not been reported by the CDC.

Malaria

While uncommon in the United States, 9 locally acquired malaria cases were reported across Florida (7 cases), Texas (1 case), and Maryland (1 case) during the summer of 2023. Though believed to be isolated events, the majority of these cases were caused by Plasmodium vivax, a protozoal parasite that infects the blood of its host and causes disease in humans.

Malaria can present with symptoms such as fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Severe cases may result in complications affecting the kidneys, lungs, and blood vessels. It is crucial to note that malaria can affect individuals of all ages, and prompt diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.

Typically, the United States records over 1,000 imported cases of malaria each year and zero locally acquired cases. According to the CDC, locally acquired mosquito-borne malaria has not been reported in the United States since 2003, when 8 cases were identified in Palm Beach County, FL. The main vector for malaria in the Eastern United States is Anopheles quadrimaculatus. The occurrence of 9 locally acquired malaria cases in 2023 serves as a reminder that mosquito dynamics are subject to change, and proactive measures are essential to address potential shifts in disease transmission patterns.

Malaria map global
Image Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/malaria/index.html

West Nile virus

The frequency of West Nile virus infections reported in 2023 were more than double what we saw in 2022.  With torrential rains and flooding across many of the western states a total of 2,406 human disease cases were reported and many of those (n=1,599) experienced the most severe form of infection, including neuroinvasive symptoms. The top 5 states affected by this surge include  Colorado (626 cases), California (367 cases), Nebraska (150 cases), Illinois (113 cases), and South Dakota (93 cases). With 47 states reporting cases in 2023, compared to 43 in 2022, the virus continues to pose a widespread threat. 

Mosquitoes from the genera Culex are recognized as the primary vectors of the disease worldwide and in the U.S. Among these, Culex pipiens, Culex tarsalis, and Culex quinquefasciatus are the main species responsible for transmitting West Nile virus in the U.S. West Nile virus symptoms range from mild flu-like symptoms to severe neurological conditions. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to severe cases, experiencing complications such as meningitis and brain inflammation. 

Year Over Year Change

2023
2,406 cases (1,599 neuroinvasive)
2022
1,132 cases (827 neuroinvasive)
2021
2,911 cases (2,008 neuroinvasive)
2020
731 cases (559 neuroinvasive)

Top 5 states for Human Case Count:

2023 West Nile virus Cases In the U.S.
Image Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on January 31, 2024 https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsmaps/current-season-data.html
2023 Human Case Count
0
2022 Human Case Count
0
States* reporting cases 2023
0
States* reporting cases 2022
0

*note: CDC counts District of Columbia as a state

La Crosse Encephalitis

La Crosse encephalitis witnessed an increase in human cases, with 31 reported in 2023, including 30 neuroinvasive cases. Ohio (12 cases), Tennessee (5 cases), and West Virginia (5 cases) led the 10 states that reported cases. 

This mosquito-borne disease primarily affects children and can lead to symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, and, in severe cases, neuroinvasive complications. The transmission of the La Crosse virus occurs through the bite of an infected Aedes triseriatus, commonly known as the Eastern tree-hole mosquito.

Year Over Year Change​

2023
31 cases (30 neuroinvasive)
2022
22 cases (19 neuroinvasive)
2021
40 cases (39 neuroinvasive)
2020
88 cases (84 neuroinvasive)

Top 3 states for Human Case Count:​

2023 La Crosse Encephalitis Cases In the U.S.
2023-disease-in-review
Image Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on January 31, 2024 https://www.cdc.gov/lac/statistics/current-season-data.html
2023 Human Case Count
0
2022 Human Case Count
0
States reporting cases 2023
0
States reporting cases 2022
0

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Though there was only 1 case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in 2022, 7 cases were reported by 4 states in 2023. All cases were neuroinvasive and occurred in the southeast – Alabama (3 cases), Florida (2 cases), Georgia (1 case), and Louisiana (1 case). 

While it primarily circulates between birds and the mosquito species Culiseta melanura, transmission to humans and animals can occur through mosquitoes of the Aedes, Coquillettidia, and Culex genera. These mosquitoes feed on infected birds and subsequently bite mammals, spreading the virus.

This disease poses a significant risk, especially among older adults and young children. Symptoms include high fever, headache, and, in severe cases, brain inflammation. The impact on vulnerable populations emphasizes targeted public health campaigns and mosquito control efforts.

Year Over Year Change​

2023
7 cases (7 neuroinvasive)
2022
1 case (1 neuroinvasive)
2021
5 cases (5 neuroinvasive)
2020
13 cases (13 neuroinvasive)

Top 4 states for Human Case Count:​

2023 Eastern Equine Encephalitis Cases In the U.S.
2023-disease-in-review
Image Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on January 31, 2024 https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/statistics-maps/current-season-data.html
2023 Human Case Count
0
2022 Human Case Count
0
States reporting cases 2023
0
States reporting cases 2022
0

Jamestown Canyon Virus

Jamestown Canyon virus experienced a notable increase, with 21 human cases reported in 2023, 15 of which were neuroinvasive. Of the 7 states that reported cases, Wisconsin led with 9 human case counts, followed by Michigan (5 cases), Minnesota (2 cases), New Hampshire (2 cases), Illinois (1 case), New Jersey (1 case), and New York (1 case). 

The virus can be spread by different types of mosquitoes, with deer often serving as the amplifying host. Symptoms may include fever, headache, and neurological issues in severe cases. While not often fatal, the virus can cause long-term neurological complications. However, humans are deemed “dead-end” hosts for the virus, as their blood lacks the virus levels necessary to infect mosquitoes and propagate the disease further.

Year Over Year Change​

2023
21 cases (15 neuroinvasive)
2022
12 cases (11 neuroinvasive)
2021
32 cases (21 neuroinvasive)
2020
13 cases (10 neuroinvasive)

Top 4 states for Human Case Count:​

2023 Jamestown Canyon Virus Cases In the U.S.
2023-disease-in-review
Image Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on January 31, 2024 https://www.cdc.gov/jamestown-canyon/statistics/current-season-data.html
2023 Human Case Count
0
2022 Human Case Count
0
States reporting cases 2023
0
States reporting cases 2022
0

St. Louis Encephalitis

St. Louis encephalitis reported 19 cases in 2023 (13 neuroinvasive), a notable decrease from 2022. Of the 3 reporting states, California recorded the highest number (17 cases), followed by South Carolina (1 case) and Washington (1 case). 

Culex pipiens, Culex quinquefasciatus, Culex tarsalis, and Culex nigripalpus are the predominant mosquito vectors. Wild birds are amplifying hosts, yet typically remain asymptomatic.

This disease primarily affects older adults and can result in symptoms such as fever, headache, and confusion. The severity of symptoms typically increases with age. Approximately 90% of elderly people who become infected with this virus develop brain inflammation, according to the CDC. The fatality rate for cases ranges between 5% and 20%.

Year Over Year Change​

2023
19 cases (13 neuroinvasive)
2022
33 cases (27 neuroinvasive)
2021
17 cases (11 neuroinvasive)
2020
16 cases (14 neuroinvasive)

Top 3 states for Human Case Count:​

2023 St. Louis Encephalitis Cases In the U.S.
2023-disease-in-review
Image Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on January 31, 2024 https://www.cdc.gov/sle/statistics/current-season-data.html
2023 Human Case Count
0
2022 Human Case Count
0
States reporting cases 2023
0
States reporting cases 2022
0

Dengue

Dengue comprises a group of viruses transmitted to humans through infected mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, specifically Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Though showing a slight overall decrease, Dengue still poses a considerable public health concern with 2,556 reported cases in 2023. More than half of the cases were travel-associated, but 1,104 were locally acquired. Puerto Rico and Florida emerged as the top jurisdictions reporting locally acquired cases.

Dengue symptoms range from mild fever to severe hemorrhagic fever. Severe cases are more common in young children and older adults. Transmission of the disease to a fetus can also occur during pregnancy.

Year Over Year Change​

2023
1,104 cases
1,452 cases
2022
1,044 cases
1,494 cases
2021
609 cases
205 cases
2020
983 cases
354 cases

*Red= Locally Acquired Cases, Grey= Travel Related Cases

Top 4 states for Human Case Count:​

2023 Dengue Cases In the U.S.
2023-disease-in-review
Image Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on January 31, 2024 https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/statistics-maps/current-data.html
2023 Human Case Count
0
2022 Human Case Count
0
States reporting cases 2023
0
States reporting cases 2022
0

Utilizing Data to Drive Informative Mosquito Management Programs

The 2023 data highlights the evolving regional dynamics of mosquito-borne diseases and underscores the importance of tailored, localized efforts to limit the spread. Adult mosquito management,  surveillance, disease testing, and public education are pivotal in safeguarding the health of our nationwide communities. Integrated Mosquito Management programs incorporate these key strategies and provide a science-based approach to mosquito control. As we navigate the evolving landscape of mosquito-borne diseases, proactive measures and a collective commitment to public health remain our most impactful tools to combat these growing threats.

Other Noteable Data

  • Locally acquired malaria found in U.S. for first time in 20 years (2003, 8 cases in Florida)
  • West Nile virus case count more than doubles from 2022 (105.65% increase)
  • La Crosse (31% 🔼) , Eastern Equine (600% 🔼), and Jamestown Canyon (66.66% 🔼) all see human case count increases.
  • Dengue human case count decreases slightly (🔽 -7.6%)

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Since 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

Understanding the Mosquito Life Cycle

What are the life stages of a mosquito?

Understanding the developmental processes of mosquitoes is crucial to keeping them under control. While there are thousands of different mosquito species, they all undergo complete metamorphosis. This means they have a lifecycle which includes four distinct growth stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Watch the video below to learn more about the process. 

A Deep Dive Into the Mosquito Life Cycle

Most female mosquitoes lay their eggs in or near water, just above the water line, or moist soil in areas that are prone to flooding. Most mosquitoes can be categorized as floodwater, permanent water, or container species based on the types of habitats utilized for larval development. 

Where Do Mosquitoes Lay Their Eggs?

Floodwater

Floodwater mosquitoes lay eggs in low-lying areas that temporarily fill with water, such as ditches, agricultural lands, or dry basins. These eggs will hatch when they become submersed during rainfall or flooding events.

Permanent

Permanent water species lay their eggs on standing waterbodies like ponds and marshes. 

Container

Container species lay their eggs on the edge of small stagnant water vessels, such as bird baths, buckets, and even bottle caps. 

What are the life stages of a mosquito?

The Larval Stage

Once exposed to water, larvae will typically hatch from their eggs within 48 hours. During this stage, most larvae suspend themselves near the surface, breathing through a siphon-like tube, and feeding on organic matter and microorganisms. 

The Pupal Stage

Over the course of approximately 4 to 14 days, larvae will shed their skin, or molt, 4 times before developing as pupae

Pupae continue to develop near the surface, resembling small, squirming commas. 

The Adult Stage

After two to four days, adult mosquitoes emerge from their pupal exoskeletons and exit the water as adults. Blood meals are essential for some mosquito species, and it is important to note that only the females seek blood-meals, which provide the nutrition necessary to support egg development.

Though male mosquitoes typically die within five to seven days, females can live several months and are capable of laying thousands of eggs. During this time, many species are capable of vectoring dangerous diseases like West Nile Virus, Yellow Fever, Zika, Dengue, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Our understanding of the diversity of mosquito species and their unique life cycles is instrumental in developing effective management strategies to maintain safer, more enjoyable outdoor spaces.

VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

Contact Us to Build Your Mosquito Management Program:

Effects of Mosquito-Borne Diseases on Bird Populations

How Mosquitoes Impact Bird Populations and Our Ecosystem

Imagine walking through the streets of New York City on a hot August day and seeing dead crows distributed across large areas. This is a real-world event that occurred in 1999. Scientists did not understand the reason for the sudden deaths among crow populations, but later discovered their brains and organs suffered severe bleeding. Soon after, they identified a correlation between the abrupt crow deaths and unexplained neurological symptoms afflicting human several patients at a local hospital. Both the crows and sick patients contracted a disease that had never before been detected in the United States – West Nile virus (WNv).

Crows-sitting-on-tree

How Mosquito and Bird Interaction Amplifies West Nile Virus

The delicate balance of ecosystems relies on a complex web of interactions between species. Among them, the relationship between birds and mosquitoes is often overlooked. The mosquito species Culex pipiens was determined to be the most likely source of the virus. Though this species had been in the country well before 1999, new Culex pipiens mosquitoes may have carried the disease over through global travel or the trade of goods like exotic plants. WNv could also have been brought into the United States by migratory birds and then transmitted by local Culex pipiens mosquitoes. WNv has a complicated life cycle, requiring amplification in birds before being transmitted to people. For a person to become infected, they must be bitten by a mosquito that has previously fed upon an infected bird.

Birds and Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Clsoe-up-mosquito

In addition to WNv, birds are susceptible to several of the same mosquito-borne diseases that impact humans, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis and St. Louis Encephalitis. Through their diverse interactions and migratory behaviors, birds can spread diseases rapidly among their populations, including other bird species. In fact, more than 300 bird species across the globe can become infected through mosquito bites or by consuming infected mosquitoes or other sick birds.

The Spread of West Nile Virus in the U.S.

Since being introduced in 1999, WNv infection has become the most common mosquito-borne illness in the United States, with human and non-human cases reported in almost every state. Though most people who contract the virus do not display symptoms, more severe cases can cause flu-like symptoms, neurological problems, and death. Because only a small number of WNv cases are reported, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that the actual number of illnesses may be two to three times higher than reported. Most cases occur during the summer, reaching their highest numbers in early autumn. Around 25 mammal species and at least 2 reptile species have been identified as hosts to the virus.

Advancements in Understanding and Controlling West Nile Virus

Luckily, scientists have learned significantly more about WNv since 1999. We now know it can be carried by more than 150 mosquito species, but Culex pipiens, Culex tarsalis, and Culex quinquefasciatus remain the primary WNv vectors. Many government agencies have established surveillance programs to monitor the spread of mosquito-borne diseases among bird populations. These efforts go hand-in-hand with the proactive efforts conducted via Integrated Mosquito Management programs, which include surveillance and data collection through trapping and disease testing, as well as the application of EPA-registered larvicides and adulticides when mosquito control measures are required.

The Role of Public Education and Prevention

vdci-education-public

Public education is also paramount in detecting diseases early on, so swift action can be taken to preserve public health. Sightings of dead birds should be reported to local wildlife agencies. Homeowners can eliminate the habitats where Culex pipiens mosquitoes tend to develop by eliminating standing water around their properties. Flowerpot saucers, outdoor pet bowls, buckets, bird baths, and clogged gutters are common sources of standing water. Education about personal protection is also essential. Community members can reduce their risk of infection by applying EPA-registered insect repellents, wearing pants and long sleeves, and avoiding the outdoors around dawn and dusk, the hours of peak mosquito activity.

The event of 1999 is a stark example of the devastating impact mosquitoes can have on bird populations, local ecosystems, and the public. It’s crucial to stay ahead of disease transmission through continuous monitoring, research, and public education. Contact the mosquito management experts today to start designing your Integrated Mosquito Management program.

Contact Us to Build Your Mosquito Management Program:

VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

Using Your Smartphone to Help Monitor Mosquito Activity

guy-sitting-with-dog-outside-on-phone

As warm weather begins to take hold across North America, many people are itching to get outside and enjoy more seasonal temperatures. However, in the wake of a very wet winter and spring in many parts of the United States, scientists are already raising the red flag about heightened mosquito activity in 2023. 

As the climate continues to change, new mosquito species are becoming more prevalent in the United States, particularly in more tropical areas of the country, like Florida and the Gulf Coast states. For example, in March 2023, new research by Larry Reeves from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science published in the Journal of Medical Entomology reported on Culex lactator, a mosquito species from South America that is slowly gaining a foothold in Florida. Understanding how fast new species like this are spreading, where they are being found, and how they adapt to new climates is critical to developing control methods. 

With the rapid evolution of technology, mosquito researchers are now looking toward ordinary citizens to help gain some of this knowledge, elevating “citizen science” to a new level in helping to understand mosquito activity around the globe. Two new apps, available to anyone using a smartphone or web-enabled tablet, are now making it easier for scientists to track and understand mosquito activity with the help of citizens interested in protecting public health from mosquitoes. 

What is citizen science?

The term “citizen science” was first coined in 1989 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in describing work being done by community members who were interested in environmental issues. 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines citizen science as “scientific work, for example collecting information, that is done by ordinary people without special qualifications, in order to help the work of scientists.” 

By this definition, any of us can help enable mosquito research from our communities and even our backyards if we know what to look for and how to report it. That’s where two easily downloadable applications, the Globe Observer app and the Mosquito Alert app, empower everyday citizens to help inform scientists about mosquito activity with just a few taps on their smart devices. 

Mosquito Research Safety Precautions

Before using either of the apps in this article, it is important to note that voluntarily engaging in any mosquito research activity can increase your likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes, which can spread diseases that are harmful to humans and our pets, such as West Nile virus, heartworm, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), dengue, and more. 

As such, it is important to take safety precautions if you plan to be outside or in any area where mosquitoes are known to be active. Remember the 4Ds to help reduce your chances of being bitten. 

  • DEFEND – Always protect yourself by using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent
  • DRESS – Dress in closed-toe shoes and loose-fitting pants and long-sleeve shirts that are light in color. Avoid wearing perfumes or other scented products that may attract mosquitoes. 
  • DRAIN – Remove or drain any standing water. 
  • DAWN AND DUSK – Avoid the outdoors during dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active.

The Globe Observer App

Powered by the United States National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), the Globe Observer app enables users to enter data and information in 4 different areas: clouds, land cover, trees, and the mosquito habitat mapper. For this blog, we’ll focus on the latter area. 

Mosquito_habitiat_mapper_screenshot
Observer_app_Screenshot

To best use the Globe Observer app, users will need to do the following:

  • Download the app to your smart device.
  • Create an account using their email address and verify through a password emailed to the supplied email address.
  • Enable location services while using the app; this allows for the app to easily help you report mosquito breeding habitats.
  • Take photos using your smart device.
  • Allow access to your device’s camera for uploading photos of habitats and larvae.

For safety purposes, this app focuses users on recording data related to mosquito breeding sites and larvae rather than tracking adult mosquitoes.

Once users have downloaded the app and created their account, they can use the mosquito habitat mapper to take one of four actions:

  1. Identify potential mosquito habitats
  2. Sample and count mosquito larvae (using a cup, bulb syringe, or other container)
  3. Identify the larva type (may require a microscope or macro lens on your device’s camera)
  4. Eliminate the larva you have counted and the breeding habitat, if possible

Each of these actions can be taken with a few simple taps, by following the directions provided on each screen.

Users can also view maps of the mosquito observations that other users have made by clicking on the chart icon at the bottom left corner of the screen from anywhere in the app and selecting the See Today’s Mosquito Measurements button. The feature works best when you view it over a cumulative time period. Users can leverage the calendar and zoom features to see further details of activity recorded by other citizen scientists. 

Screenshot_map_mosquitoes

The Mosquito Alert App

A public information project coordinated by four different research organizations, the Mosquito Alert app works similarly to the Globe Observer app to help citizens report a variety of different mosquito-related conditions to help monitor activity in their area. Data for this citizen science project has been recorded since 2014. 

The Mosquito Alert app is based internationally in Spain, developed by the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), and Blanes Center for Advanced Studies (CEAB-CSIC). As such, many of the current users of the app are based in Europe, but the activity maps do reflect some reports in the Americas. 

To best use the Mosquito Alert app, users will need to:

  • Download the app to your smart device.
  • Create an account.
  • Enable location services while using the app for mapping purposes.
  • Take photos using your smart device.
  • Allow access to your device’s camera for uploading photos of mosquitoes, bites, and more. 

The Mosquito Alert app is focused specifically on five different mosquito species that are particularly important in the spread of disease to humans. 

By clicking on the Settings icon at the top left from any screen of the app, users can access an app tutorial on mosquito identification or a Mosquito guide to note distinguishing features that can help identify particular mosquito species, see photo examples of mosquito larvae and breeding sites, and more.

Once users have set up an account, they can use the app to take one of four actions:

  • Report a mosquito bite
  • Report adult mosquito activity
  • Report a breeding site
  • Or view data they have submitted

When reporting a bite, users will be asked several questions:

  • How many bites they received
  • Using a diagram, select where on their body they were bitten 
  • Select your general location where you were bitten (inside a vehicle, inside a building, outdoors, or do not know)
  • When they were bitten

If users use the app to report a breeding site, a different set of questions will appear. They will be asked whether or not the site is a storm drain or another location. For either option, users will be asked to take a photo of the location. 

If reporting an adult mosquito, the user will be asked to select the type of mosquito they think it was by species, take a photograph if possible, and mark their location (if location services are enabled on the user’s device, the device will automatically record the location on a map).

As of April 2023, the Mosquito Alert app reports having over 278,000 participants around the world and averages nearly 30 reports from citizen scientists each day.

Screenshot_20230224_122204

It's Up to Us to Improve The Data

As with any scientific project, data is invaluable. These apps, and the data they provide to mosquito researchers, will get better as more users report mosquito breeding sites and activity near their locations. YOU can be a part of this important citizen science by downloading one or both of these apps and reporting mosquito conditions near you. 

If you work with or have children, utilizing these apps can be a great science project and learning opportunity by involving them in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) while they are young. 

Don't Forget To Report Mosquitoes To Your Local Authorities

While citizen science apps are a helpful tool for global research, it’s important to remember to report mosquito breeding sites and unusual mosquito activity to local authorities in your community. This will ensure the quickest and most effective action is taken to reduce the risks mosquitoes pose to you, your family, your neighbors, and your community at large. 

While the authority you should report activity to varies by community, calling your local mosquito control board or health department is typically a great start. In some communities, you may be able to call 311 and ask about reporting mosquitoes to get you to the right resources. 

Implementing Integrated Mosquito Management in Your Community

VDCI is proud to partner with government agencies, municipalities, and businesses across the United States to help reduce mosquito populations and eliminate risks in their communities. For more information on our programs, implementing an Integrated Mosquito Management program in your community, and other helpful resources, visit vdci.net. 

Contact Us to Learn More About Effective Mosquito Prevention Strategies:

VDCI_Logo_square Since 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

Deep Dive Into A Mosquito Laboratory

CDCMosquito Mosquito Surveillance & Disease Testing Reduce Mosquito-borne Disease 5

Mosquitoes are one of the biggest threats to public health in our communities, killing more than one million people each year across the globe. Government leaders are tasked with the difficult job of protecting citizens from mosquito-borne diseases, but unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Effective management and prevention require a comprehensive understanding of local mosquito activity, evolving population dynamics, and emerging insecticide resistance – knowledge that cannot be achieved without the ongoing support and guidance of a scientific laboratory. 

Mosquito laboratories play a critical role in every step of the management process, from building Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) programs and emergency response plans to keeping the public informed about mosquito activity. As a mosquito management company licensed in public health, VDCI understands the uncertainty and fear that can arise when diseases are identified in a community. Everyone deserves peace of mind while enjoying the outdoors, which is why we use laboratory testing and data collection to drive safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly IMM programs. Here’s what goes on behind the scenes in a professional mosquito laboratory.

Identify Local Mosquito Populations via Trapping

Trapping is the first step in understanding mosquito composition within a region. VDCI employs various mosquito traps to capture different mosquitoes based on the species, their disease-carrying potential, and the types of habitats they prefer. Traps are strategically placed in target areas around a community.

The CDC Light Trap is a primary device used for mosquito collection. Created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this trap is considered the gold standard for mosquito collection and is typically set between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. The CDC Light Trap contains a battery-motorized fan and carbon dioxide (CO2) to attract and pull mosquitoes into the device.

Experts may also choose to deploy other tools like the BG-Sentinel Trap, the Gravid Trap, or the New Jersey Light Trap, each of which uses alternate strategies to lure mosquitoes. Gravid Traps, for example, are filled with stagnant water containing organic matter to mimic a natural egg laying habitat. After the designated collection period, experts return the samples to the lab for analysis and data collection.

Examining Mosquito Samples In the Lab

Surveillance and disease testing mosquito management

When mosquito-borne diseases are present in a community, immediate action must be taken to protect the public and keep government leaders up-to-date on evolving safety levels. Disease detection tests arm government leaders with virtually real-time knowledge to make critical public health decisions and management choices. This information can then be shared with other local agencies to take preventative action such as distributing educational materials and expanding insecticide application efforts in high-risk areas. 

VDCI regularly partners with health departments, schools, and local organizations to keep the public informed about personal protection and mosquito prevention around their homes and businesses. Laboratory scientists play a key role in facilitating communication between the experts “on the ground,” community leaders, and government agencies to ensure timely and effective implementation of mosquito control efforts. VDCI’s proprietary database makes it possible to consistently and transparently report urgent information to decision-makers. 

Utilizing Lab Data to Help Reduce Insecticide Resistance

The tests performed in the laboratory serve as an essential backbone of management programs. Over time, the results help form a complete picture of mosquito dynamics in a community – and the risk of disease transmission. This data can also be a powerful predictor of annual mosquito activity, helping government leaders to accurately prepare for the year ahead. This may include choosing trap locations, determining testing intervals, and setting the thresholds that prompt action. By tailoring programs based on laboratory data, communities can use funds and products more efficiently while reducing the risk of insecticide resistance. 

In addition to disease monitoring, insecticide resistance monitoring is one of the most important aspects of mosquito management. In the lab, scientists regularly complete tests to gauge the effectiveness of products currently in use. CDC Bottle Bioassays are used to identify resistance in adult mosquitoes. During the testing process, female mosquitoes are placed in bottles applied with a diluted pesticide solution and observed. The mortality data is compared against a control group for signs of resistance. Similarly, Larval Cup Bioassays expose mosquito larvae to diluted products to examine mortality. 

Determining the Type of Insecticide Resistance

Determining the type of resistance that has occurred is crucial in developing an effective management strategy for the mosquito population. There are several types of insecticide resistance:

  • Cross-resistance occurs when mosquitoes become resistant to multiple insecticide products that work in the same way.
  • Multiple resistance occurs when mosquitoes become resistant to several different types of mosquito products.
  • Target site resistance is when mosquitoes develop a genetic mutation that protects them from products designed to target a specific genetic trait.
  • Behavioral resistance occurs when mosquitoes change their behavior to avoid exposure to specific products, such as not landing on surfaces that have been treated with insecticides.

Mosquito management experts can use this knowledge to measure the success of ongoing management initiatives and make responsible adjustments if product use has become less efficient. 

Executing Mosquito Control Strategies for A Safer Community

mosquito-aerial-application

EPA-registered larvacides and insecticides are necessary and invaluable components of Integrated Mosquito Management programs. When the threat of disease transmission is high, these products help quickly and safely eliminate dangerous populations. Experts rely on data gathered through trapping and disease testing to identify areas most at risk and determine precisely how much product should be used for maximum effectiveness. This data may also dictate the types of equipment used such as ULV (Ultra-Low Volume) trucks or backpack sprayers, aircraft, or modern technologies like state-of-the-art drones. Technology used for the management of mosquitoes is always improving. Scientists are driving new innovations to make it faster and easier to count mosquito eggs, identify species, distinguish between male and female mosquitoes, and remotely detect high-risk areas for mosquito breeding such as stagnant ponds and pools. 

Mosquito management is challenging. High reproduction rates, wide species distribution, and strong adaptability make mosquitoes one of the most resilient species in the world – one that’s survived for millions of years. More than ever, science-backed management strategies, public education, and coordination among stakeholders are necessary to combat mosquitoes and minimize the threat of deadly diseases. Scientific laboratories are at the epicenter of these efforts and will continue to play a fundamental part in the safety and enjoyment of our communities. 

Contact Us to Learn More About Effective Mosquito Prevention Strategies:

VDCI_Logo_square Since 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

VDCI’s Guide to Helping You Educate Community Members About Mosquitoes

beautiful-overlook-of-community

Teaching Citizens How to Protect Themselves from Mosquitoes

Government leaders work hard to keep their communities safe. Mosquito management is an important part of these efforts. The threat of West Nile, Dengue, EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases can frighten the public and detract from enjoyment of outdoor amenities. No leader wants to experience the stress or public outrage associated with a disease outbreak – not to mention the impact it has on the community that they care so much about. Mosquito prevention is key, and public education is a crucial component of preventing bites and reducing breeding habitats.

Most people view mosquitoes as nuisances that hinder the enjoyment of camping, gardening, sports games, nature walks, fishing, neighborhood cookouts, and other outdoor activities. While this is true, mosquitoes are also responsible for killing more than one million people and animals worldwide annually through the transmission of diseases. When the general public understands how these diseases are spread, the habitats in which mosquitoes breed, and effective ways to protect themselves when outdoors, they can help limit the dangerous impact of mosquitoes and reinforce efforts of an Integrated Mosquito Management program.

Community education is a critical part of an Integrated Mosquito Management program – a comprehensive management approach that targets mosquitoes at every stage of their life cycle, including surveillance, disease testing and the implementation of ground or aerial control measures when necessary. Mosquito management efforts have a greater chance of long-term success when supported by the public. As a mosquito management company with a mission of protecting public health, VDCI collaborates with government agencies, mosquito abatement districts, health departments, schools, and public organizations to disseminate information across communities. 

For maximal impact, messaging and resources should educate the larger community about the importance of personal protection and explain the influence every person has on mosquito populations in their area: 

Personal Protection

One of the most beneficial ways to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases is personal protection. Physical and chemical barriers can effectively keep bites at bay when spending time outdoors. 

Avoid the outdoors during dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active.

CDCMosquitoPHOCO-283

Property Maintenance

Residence and property maintenance also play a vital role in mosquito prevention. Mosquitoes require standing water in order to breed. It’s essential to identify and regularly drain containers where water may collect. These may include:

  • Bird baths
  • Flower pots and buckets
  • Outdoor pet bowls
  • Children’s toys and playsets
  • Tires and lawncare equipment
  • Pool covers
  • Potholes
  • Tree stumps
  • Canoes and kayaks

Consistently monitoring and clearing gutters and stormwater ditches is important to ensure water is correctly diverted during rainstorms. Mosquitoes also prefer cool, shady areas. Keeping weeds, bushes, and shrubbery trimmed can help reduce places of respite.

Communication Channels

It’s important to distribute information through as many communication channels as possible. Parish and county websites are influential platforms to provide mosquito prevention tips and links to relevant resources. Sharing this information through social media may expand messaging even further. Additionally, instructing city representatives during council meetings can provide them with actionable knowledge to educate their constituents.

Utilizing industry experts to educate community members is also a favorable option. Presentations at schools, libraries, local clubs, senior citizen homes, boy scouts, and public health expos can also help to spread the word about mosquito risks. By focusing on protection and prevention, the community can work together to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

A note on DIY Solutions 

It can be tempting for citizens to purchase yard sprays or foggers from home improvement stores, but in the long run, these products can have disastrous consequences. Many products available to consumers are not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the management of mosquitoes. Overuse of these products, as well as failure to follow label guidelines, can allow mosquitoes to develop resistance to insecticides, including the more advanced products that are only accessible to licensed mosquito management experts. 

Instead of DIY spraying, homeowners can support the mosquito management program in their local community by following the best practices mentioned above and becoming educated on the science-backed solutions included in an IMM program. Professional IMM programs may involve: 

Knowledge is key when it comes to reducing dangerous mosquito populations in a community. Ultimately, these preventative efforts can be summed up as the 4 “Ds” – 

  • DEFEND
  • DRESS 
  • DRAIN
  • DAWN & DUSK

Help Create Safe, More Enjoyable Outdoor Spaces

As long as citizens understand and incorporate these simple practices into their daily lives, they can help reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

An educated public is a powerful pillar of an IMM program and a useful measure of its effectiveness. By consistently distributing mosquito control resources, community leaders can help show their commitment to public safety and build trust between the government and the public. At VDCI, we are dedicated to partnering with government entities and health agencies to keep citizens engaged and informed through regular program updates, prevention reminders, and safety warnings as needs arise.

Contact Us to Learn More About Effective Mosquito Prevention Strategies:

VDCI_Logo_square Since 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

VDCI’s 2022 Mosquito-Borne Disease Year In Review

West-Nile-Virus-UK-spread-Europe-outbreak-1001738

With COVID-19, an ongoing “tripledemic” of multiple respiratory diseases, the economy, and politics dominating the headlines in 2022, vector-borne diseases didn’t get much attention in the national spotlight. However, diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks are on the leading edge of increasing concerns about climate change, and the experts at VDCI continue to monitor their activity so we can keep the public and our clients informed.

This year in review looks at major mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, summarizes case counts in 2022, and highlights key areas of activity. As we kick off a new year, these data points can inform and shape your integrated mosquito management plans, as well as give you information to provide to your citizens, employees, customers, and the public at large to help them protect themselves and their families from mosquito-borne disease.

West Nile Virus

2022 US Case Count: 1,035 human cases; 79 deaths

West Nile continues to be the deadliest mosquito-borne disease in the continental U.S. First reported in 1999, the virus is now considered endemic by public health authorities in most areas.

There are an estimated 200 species of mosquitoes found in the United States; of those, approximately 150 can be vectors of West Nile virus (WNv). Species of the Culex genus are considered to be the primary carriers of the disease both globally and in the U.S., with Culex pipiens, Culex tarsalis, and Culex quinquefasciatus being the primary species that spread West Nile virus in the U.S.

Humans contract WNv when bitten by an infected mosquito. While even healthy adults can contract the disease, West Nile can be especially dangerous for the very young and the very old, as well as anyone with a compromised immune system. Many infected people have no symptoms; however, those that do may have flu-like symptoms, fever, rash, neck stiffness, and headache. For some infected individuals, the disease can be more severe and lead to encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and be fatal. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 in every 150 cases of West Nile lead to the central nervous system being affected, and the onset of neuroinvasive disease. These cases become more severe and can leave people with long-lasting or permanent neurological symptoms.

In 2022*, there were 1,035 human cases of West Nile reported by the CDC in the U.S., with 298 being qualified as neuroinvasive disease. There were 79 fatalities as a result of the disease. Both human cases and deaths from WNv were significantly down from 2021, but since the disease is cyclical, the drop in case counts does not indicate that there is less reason for concern, and some regions of the country reported significantly higher case counts than they’ve ever seen.

Nearly every U.S. state faced West Nile virus, with only 4 reporting no activity of any type: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and Montana. None of the 8 reporting U.S. territories had West Nile activity, non-human, or human infections.

States with the highest incidence of human West Nile virus cases
Colorado (204)
California (168)
New York (79)
South Dakota (66)
Nebraska (64)

States with the highest West Nile virus death toll
Colorado (18)
California (11)
Texas (7)
Louisiana (6)
Nebraska (4)
Arizona (4)
Illinois (4)

Get more information on this mosquito-borne disease on our West Nile virus page. If you are concerned about West Nile virus in your community or around your business, connect with us to speak with one of our experts.

Dengue

2022 US Case Count: 1073 human cases, 0 deaths

Dengue is a group of viruses spread to humans by infected Aedes genus mosquitoes, specifically Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus; pregnant people can also pass the disease to a fetus. There are 4 common Dengue viruses, denoted as Dengue 1, 2, 3, and 4. Worldwide, there are over 400 million cases annually, and an estimated 40,000 people die each year.

According to the CDC, public health authorities in the United States reported a total of 1,073 cases of Dengue this year. However, the vast majority of those cases were travel-acquired, meaning that the subjects were infected outside of the U.S. Only 59 cases were considered locally transmitted. There were no reported fatalities in the country as a result of Dengue, although this may reflect underreporting.

U.S. territories Guam and Puerto Rico reported a combined total of 828 cases. Unlike the continental U.S., nearly all of these cases in the territories were locally acquired – 820, to be exact. This is not surprising, given the more tropical conditions, and vector abundance in these locales.

One significant development that is worth noting: in 2022, the Dengvaxia vaccine was approved for use in the United States in children august 9 to 16 with laboratory-confirmed results of a previous Dengue infection.

The U.S. case counts in 2022 illustrate a substantial increase in reported cases over both 2021 and 2020, but a slight decrease versus 2019. This could be a reflection of an increase in the traveling public in 2022, since there was a significant post-pandemic return-to-travel. 2019 marked the highest number of Dengue cases reported in the U.S. since 2010 when it became a reportable disease and case counts began being tracked. That makes 2022 the second-highest case count reported in U.S. states in the last 12 years.

This could be an interesting trend to watch around the globe. According to the Pan American Health Organization, in 2022, a number of countries in North, Central, and South America saw substantial increases in human Dengue cases over 2021.

Americas (North, South, Central), 5 countries with highest increases in Dengue human cases 

Country

2021 Dengue Cases

2022 Dengue Cases

Percentage Increase

United States

117

1073

⬆️817.094%

Panama

3095

11172

⬆️260.969%

El Salvador

5572

16542

⬆️196.877%

Guatemala

2861

8407

⬆️193.848%

Nicaragua

36741

97541

⬆️165.483%

The World Health Organization (WHO) tracks Dengue activity around the globe and in early January 2023, issued an update on Dengue in the Western Pacific Region, indicating that activity has substantially increased in many countries including Lao, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

Get more facts and information about Dengue virus from VDCI.

La Crosse Virus Disease

2022 US Case Count: 21 human cases

La Crosse virus is typically spread by Aedes triseriatus, commonly called the Eastern treehole mosquito. This disease most commonly affects children and teenagers.

La Crosse virus disease is endemic in the United States and is considered a reportable illness.

Symptoms of La Crosse virus are similar to those of other mosquito-borne diseases and include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue. However, it can become dangerous if it becomes La Cross encephalitis, which results in infection of the brain that can manifest through seizures, disorientation, loss of vision, and other serious conditions. Fatalities are rare.

Although the CDC’s La Crosse virus website does not reflect case counts after 2020, the agency’s Arbovirus Surveillance System, ArboNet, reports that there were 21 infections in 2022. More than half of these cases were reported in Ohio. The total number of cases is down from 2021, when 34 cases were reported.

U.S. states reporting La Crosse virus cases in 2022

State

Case Count

Minnesota

3

North Carolina

2

Ohio

13

Tennessee

2

West Virginia

1

las-crosse-virus-disease-cdc-usa-map

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

2022 US Case Count: No reporting available

While rare, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a mosquito-borne disease that can affect both humans and some animals. While it is propagated between birds and the mosquito species Culiseta melanura, it is spread to humans and animals by species in the Aedes, Coquillettidia, and Culex genera that feed on infected birds and then mammals.

As its name suggests, horses are especially susceptible to the disease. Other animals that can become infected with EEE virus (EEEv) include pigs, rodents, and certain species of deer. Scientists believe that humans who contract and recover from EEEv have lifelong immunity against re-infection.

Approximately 4 – 5% of human EEEv infections lead to contracting Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which results in swelling of the brain. EEE has a very high mortality rate, with about one-third of those infected succumbing to the disease.

From 2011 – 2020, only 110 human cases of EEEv have been reported in the United States. In 2019, several outbreaks sparked concern and resulted in 38 human cases and 19 deaths, the highest number of deaths reported in a single year from the disease.

As the map below illustrates, these EEEv infections occurred primarily on the East Coast of the U.S., with high concentrations in New England, the Southeastern U.S., and the state of Michigan.

EEEv infections in the U.S. by state, 2011 – 2020

eeev-infections-us-by state-2011-2020

The CDC has not reported on EEEv infections since 2020. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported 110 animal cases in 2021. No data is available yet for 2022.

Learn more about EEE and EEEv on VDCI’s Eastern Equine Encephalitis resource page.

Chikungunya virus

2022 U.S. Case Count: 47 human cases (travel acquired)

Chikungunya virus was rarely discussed in the United States prior to 2006, but as global travel increased and climate shifts have occurred, more U.S. citizens have had experiences with Chikungunya in recent years. It is prevalent in the Caribbean, and while most cases remain travel-acquired, documented local transmission first occurred in 2013. Since 2015, Chikungunya has been a reportable illness in the U.S., which means that health officials are required to report any cases.

Spread to humans via the bite of an infected Aedes genus mosquito, particularly Aedes aegptyi or Aedes albopictus, Chikungunya virus infection can leave those infected with symptoms such as fever, joint pain and swelling, muscle aches, headaches, and more; joint pains are one of the most prominent symptoms and can last for months after the virus subsides. Fatalities are rare.

The CDC has not updated its Chikungunya reporting site since 2020, however, through the agency’s National Arbovirus Surveillance System ArboNet website, VDCI notes that 47 cases of the disease were reported by states in 2022. All of these cases were travel acquired. These cases were reported in 21 states, as reflected in the table below.

U.S. states reporting travel-acquired Chikungunya virus cases in 2022

State

Case Count

California

4

Colorado

3

Illinois

8

Iowa

3

Kansas

1

Kentucky

1

Louisiana

1

Massachusetts

2

Minnesota

1

New Hampshire

1

New Jersey

1

New Mexico

1

New York

5

North Carolina

3

Ohio

2

Pennsylvania

2

Tennessee

2

Utah

1

Vermont

1

Virginia

3

Washington

1

chikunginya-virus-travel-usa-map-2022

In 2021, there were 21 reported travel-acquired cases, so 2022 reflects a 123% increase in overall case counts over the previous year. As with the increase in Dengue, this may reflect a more global trend that is the result of a return to travel post-pandemic.

You can learn more about Chikungunya virus, its history, and its symptoms on VDCI’s resource page.

Zika Virus

2022 U.S. Case Count: 3 human cases (travel acquired)

Like Chikungunya virus, Zika virus has only recently become a significant concern in the United States. But, after significant tropical outbreaks in 2015 and 2016, locally acquired cases were reported in southern states such as Florida and Texas with much media attention, putting the disease on the map in the U.S. with health authorities and the public at large alike.

While Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of infected Aedes genus mosquitoes, especially Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus that are found prevalently in the U.S., it can also be spread through sexual activity, which means that someone does not need to be bitten by a mosquito to be infected. This disease carries special risks for pregnant people who become infected. Zika virus can be passed to a fetus by the mother and result in birth defects and abnormalities.

In 2022, the CDC’s ArboNet system had no reports of locally transmitted Zika virus, but 3 travel-acquired cases were reported in the states listed below. This is a slight decrease from 2021 when 4 cases were reported.

U.S. states reporting travel-acquired Zika virus cases in 2022

State

Case Count

Illinois

1

Kentucky

1

New York

1

zika-virus-travel-usa-map-2022-state

While these case counts are low, there is no way to predict when the U.S. could see a spike in activity like it did in 2015 and 2016. It is important for community leaders to help citizens understand the risks associated with Zika virus and to report any Zika symptoms to their doctors, especially if they or someone they are close with has recently traveled to an area where Zika virus is prevalent. It is also critical that individuals understand the risks and take action to protect themselves, especially while traveling.

Find out more about Zika virus, symptoms, and mosquito-bite protection on VDCI’s vector-borne disease resource website.

Other vector-borne diseases of concern

While this year-in-review focuses on 6 major mosquito-borne diseases, there are others that remain a source of concern in the U.S., including malaria, St. Louis Encelphalitis and Jamestown Canyon virus. And let’s not forget heartworm, which is spread by infected mosquitoes to our beloved pets.

There are also other vector-borne diseases, which encompass viruses and illnesses spread by other pests, such as rodents, ticks, and fleas. These include some common conditions that most people are familiar with, such as Lyme disease, and lesser-known diseases such as hantavirus, plague, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Powassan virus, and more.

Protecting your community from mosquitoes

 

Whether you are responsible for mosquito programs in your community or concerned about mosquito activity on your business property, having an in-depth knowledge of integrated mosquito management programs is critical to protecting those under your care from mosquito-borne disease.

VDCI is committed to mosquito surveillance and disease monitoring, developing robust integrated mosquito management programs for our clients, and educating the public on measures to protect themselves from vector-borne diseases. We also offer emergency response and drone and aerial application services to assist communities in preventing disease, especially following major weather events such as hurricanes and flooding.

If we can assist you or your community in mosquito prevention, please connect with us online or call (866) 977-6964.

*Results reported to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of January 12, 2023.

The key to limiting the spread of mosquito-borne diseases is monitoring and prevention. Municipalities and mosquito abatement districts often execute Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) programs to help protect communities, but private citizens can support these efforts and empower themselves with disease tracking tools like the CDC’s ArboNet map. The map provides a live overview of reported mosquito activity and the most common vector-borne diseases, including:

  • West Nile Virus (WNV)
  • St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE)
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
  • La Crosse (LAC)
  • Dengue (DEN) locally-acquired and travel-associated
  • Chikungunya (CHIK) locally-acquired and travel-associated
  • Zika Virus (ZIKA) locally-acquired and travel-associated

*ArboNet is designed to reflect real-time information, but there are times when it may not be in sync. This resource is easy to navigate and can be sorted by disease type, state, and year.

Public Education in Reducing Mosquito Populations 2 bugspray mosquito prevention health and safetyIn addition to staying informed about the risks posed by mosquitoes in your community, it’s important to observe any travel warnings issued by the CDC, particularly when pregnant. It’s also essential to exercise personal protection measures like wearing insect repellent and exercising best practices around your property to reduce mosquito reproduction.

VDCI is committed to public education and spreading awareness throughout the U.S. about the dangers of mosquito-borne diseases and their preventability, with the overarching goal of reducing illness and fatalities. Our dedicated and experienced team works tirelessly with local governments to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in all of the contracts we service from coast to coast.

VDCI Wants To Make Your Community Safer. How Can We Help?

Speak to an expert about implementing an IMM program.

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VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

Are Mosquitoes Harmful to Dogs and Horses? Yes! Here’s How You Can Protect Them…

Heartworm Prevention and Dogs

Most of us know the dangers mosquitoes pose to humans across the globe, but it’s easy to forget about the toll vector-borne diseases can take on pets, particularly dogs and horses. Taking preventative measures to protect these animals is crucial. It’s also important to know and recognize the symptoms of infection to help ensure these animals receive swift care if they do contract a mosquito-borne disease – and understanding how threatening diseases spread can help break the cycle of disease transmission.

Heartworms

heartworm fact iconIf you’re a dog owner, your vet has likely warned you about Dirofilaria immitis, better known as heartworms. More than 250,000 dogs are diagnosed annually. After biting an infected animal, Aedes, Anopheles, and Mansonia mosquitoes can transmit this parasitic roundworm to many other species, including cats, foxes, raccoons, and wolves, but dogs are the natural host. As they mature over approximately 7 months, heartworms may grow up to 12 inches and survive for several years within a dog’s circulatory system.

Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs:

  • Persistent cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Stunted growth
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Fainting

Treatment of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

VDCI_Mosquito_Emerg_Response_Guide_Page_08Without proper treatment, most dogs will die from heartworm disease which is why it’s important to monitor your dog and seek medical guidance if your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms associated with heartworms. Luckily, treatment is typically successful and prescription medicine can be used to prevent the development of heartworms should a dog be bitten by an infected mosquito. There are also FDA-approved products to prevent heartworms in dogs. Depending on the severity and stage of the disease, surgical removal may be necessary.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Virus

Though mosquitoes are most known for infecting dogs with heartworms, which cannot be spread to humans, dogs can also contract other viruses like Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), sometimes referred to as sleeping sickness. However, horses and other equids are the natural host of EEE. Culiseta melanura mosquitoes are the primary vector of this virus, but Coquillettidia pertubans, Aedes sollicitans, and Ochlerotatus canadensis may also contribute to the spread. This virus attacks and inflames the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) of its host and is often fatal.

Symptoms of EEE in Horses:

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Disorientation
  • Blindness
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

Treatment of EEE in Horses

EEE Prevention for HorsesIn 80-90% of EEE cases, the infection is fatal, and horses may die within a few days. Luckily, vaccinations are available to protect horses from infection. While rare, EEE can also be contracted by humans. Treatment can be effective for less severe infections, but even with treatment, the disease is fatal in approximately 30% of cases.

Heartworms and EEE are more commonly found in warmer, wetter climates, but can be contracted nearly anywhere in the country. While it’s crucial to keep animals up-to-date on their vaccinations and preventative medicine no matter where they are located, it’s equally important to understand how to protect ourselves from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases:.

To help prevent mosquito bites, remember the 4 “Ds”

1. DEFEND

Consistently wear and reapply an EPA-approved repellent when outdoors

  • The safest and most effective repellents should contain one of the following active ingredients:
    • DEET
    • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
    • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
    • 2-undecanone
  • Always follow manufacturer guidelines found on the label to ensure safe and optimal product use.
  • Review the EPA’s list of registered insect repellents – www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you
  • Keep pets up to date on vaccinations and use preventative medications.

2. DRESS

Wear closed-toe shoes, light colors, and long sleeves and pants to keep your skin protected.

  • Mosquitoes are more attracted to darker clothing.
    Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes are more effective at preventing mosquito bites.
  • Bare skin on your hands, ankles, face, neck, or other areas should be protected with mosquito repellent.

3. DRAIN

Mosquitoes require standing water to complete their life cycle.

  • Empty and prevent future water collection in outdoor tools and objects like tires, tarps, buckets, birdbaths, basketball goals, wheelbarrows, and lawn care equipment.
  • Ensure water can drain properly from gutters, flower pots, watering cans, rain barrels, low-lying ditches, and stormwater pipes and structures.

4. DUSK & DAWN

Limit spending time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active.

  • Mosquitoes can become dehydrated in direct sunlight.
  • During the day, most mosquito species prefer cool, shaded places like thick weeds, ivy, bushes, and wood piles.

Self-protection – and the protection of your pets – is an essential part of an integrated mosquito management approach that incorporates public education, partnership with local community leaders and organizations, professional surveillance, monitoring, disease testing, and the use of pesticides when pre-determined action thresholds have been met. At VDCI, we are dedicated to driving the mosquito management industry forward through technological advancement and setting new standards for safety and efficiency, so people and animals can safely enjoy the outdoors.

Contact Us to Learn More About Effective Mosquito Prevention Strategies

VDCI_Logo_square Since 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.

Public Education Programs for Mosquito Control in the United States 1982 to the Present

PublicEducation_OH

by Broox Boze Ph.D., VDCI Director of Technical Services

Published in Wing Beats, Florida Mosquito Control Association

In 1979 the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) adopted a policy statement indicating that “methods for mosquito control should be chosen after careful consideration of the efficacy, ecological effects, and costs versus benefits of the various options, including public education, legal action, natural and biological control, elimination of breeding sources, and insecticide application.” Within a few years, a membership survey was conducted to analyze public education programs implemented by our members and found that 60% of respondents rated public education as “more important” than or “equally important” as chemical, biological, or physical control.”  However, survey respondents reported that only 1.7% of their budget was allocated for public education and an average of 30% was allocated for chemical, biological, and physical control (Beams, 1985).

AMCA’s general membership survey, conducted in 2020, indicated that a “lack of public understanding or support of mosquito control” was identified as the number one element having an impact on our profession in the next three years. “Increasing and improving public outreach” was also listed as our membership’s number one priority (Association Laboratories, 2020).

AMCA survey participantsTo examine the state of current public education programs within mosquito control agencies across the United States, we modified Beams 1985 survey and distributed it to 178 agencies across 38 states. Participants were selected for inclusion based on criteria established in the original design (Beams, 1985): inclusion of all geographic regions, and listing in the American Mosquito Control’s Directory of Mosquito Control Agencies (Challet and Keller, 1981). A total of 133 agencies completed the survey (74.7% response rate) with a relatively equal distribution across regions (Figure 1) and agency size across time (Figure 2).

AMCA survey participants

The survey results support an increased focus on public education within mosquito control and note a 10% increase in the number of agencies ranking public education as “more important” or “equally important” than chemical, biological or physical control (Figure 3) in addition to documenting a 300% increase in budget allocation from 1.7% to 5.19% of total operating expenses.

Despite the increased emphasis on public education as a leading component of Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) there was little to no change in the number of agencies that make mosquito/vector control information (brochures, leaflets, pamphlets) available to the public (86% in 1982, 85% in 2022), the number of agencies making educational presentations available to the community (85% in 1982, 88% in 2022), or the use of press releases to local new agencies (83% in 1982, 86.5% in 2022).  There was also a decrease in agencies offering facility tours to the public (71% in 1982, 58% in 2022) and regular coverage of agency activities on local news sources (45% in 1982, 38% in 2022).  There has been no change in the number of districts that rank their public education programs as either excellent or good (34% in 1982, 34.5% in 2022) when presented with the following options: excellent, good, fair, poor, variable, and no opinion.

staff responsibility mosquito control public educationOne of the biggest changes identified with public education programs is the organizational level at which responsibilities principally fall (Figure 4). Forty-seven percent of agencies report that their manager/director is primarily responsible for educational activities within their jurisdiction, down from 53% in 1982.  Despite the small change in responsibility for managers/directors, the number of agencies relying on biologists/entomologists for educational outreach decreased from 34% in 1982 to only 9% in 2022. The number of agencies with a specialist focused primarily on education increased from only 8% in 1982 to 34% in 2022, which suggests an increased understanding of the unique skills needed for educational outreach and public relations.

 The agencies surveyed in this study are public, tax-supported organizations with limited funds and the responsibility for protecting public health through management of mosquitoes in a fiscally responsible way. As a data-driven industry, the use of chemical pesticides to control mosquitoes gives rapid, noticeable, and quantifiable results that can be documented with standardized surveillance strategies.  As both the staff and budget allocated toward public education activities continues to increase, we should consider assessment strategies to document their efficacy and usefulness within the IMM framework.  Current strategies for gauging the success of public education activities include measuring the number of people reached via social media (clicks/likes/shares) and the number of outreach events held. However, surveillance data (trap counts/landing rates/service requests), public acceptance, behavioral change (container/house/breteau index), and learning/knowledge evaluations should also be a part of gauging success like the other components of IMM.  Unfortunately, the majority of mosquito control agencies are not using these measurable tools to document the success of their efforts (Figure 5) and only a small fraction of our community is utilizing surveillance-based data or behavioral change to document their public outreach impacts on protecting public health.  
 
agencies using public education assessment tools

As AMCA works to build a national campaign and reduce the lack of understanding regarding mosquito control, we must remember that Integrated Mosquito Management involves careful consideration of the efficacy, ecological effects, and costs versus benefits of the various options, including public education, legal action, natural and biological control, elimination of breeding sources, and insecticide application. While most respondents (98.2%) focus on personal protective measures (including the use of repellent, avoiding certain times of day, and dressing appropriately), the focus on the other pieces of IMM which are essential to scientifically sound operations is markedly lower. Only 40.6% of agencies put any effort into highlighting surveillance data, 66.1% focus on disease activity and 56.3% focus on larval control suggesting that our industry has room for improvement when it comes to communicating with the public. Wide area applications for controlling adult mosquitoes continue to be scrutinized and it is not surprising to see that only 30.8% of agencies focus on the science behind these intervention strategies.  Less than 25% of respondents spend any time discussing environmental impact, insecticide resistance, biocontrol, or new technologies (Figure 6) which help to ensure the safe and effective use of our limited tools.

components of IMM agency focus

Both CDC and EPA acknowledge chemical control as a component of IMM and necessary tool for reducing the risk of transmission when pathogens are found in adult mosquitoes (Connelly et al., 2020). In areas where sheer number of mosquitoes create quality of life issues, adult mosquito control is not only required, but desired by the public. However, AMCA members often shy away from discussing this important component of IMM due to concerns of backlash from non-governmental organizations and/or anti-pesticide advocacy groups. The best way to counter these concerns is to demonstrate the solid science behind the use of these technologies. Failure to do so allows special interest groups to tell, and frame, the story in a way that may not acknowledge the science behind our efforts and causes a disservice to public health.

Mosquito Control public outreach should discuss ALL of the components of IMM, and the AMCA Public Relations Committee looks forward to developing messages to make this happen.

Contact Us to Learn More About Mosquito Management Public Education

VDCI_Logo_squareSince 1992, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has taken pride in providing municipalities, mosquito abatement districts, industrial sites, planned communities, homeowners associations, and golf courses with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate. Our mosquito control professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in the field of public health, specifically vector disease control. We strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound mosquito surveillance and control programs possible based on an Integrated Mosquito Management approach recommended by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VDCI is the only company in the country that can manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance to disease testing to aerial application in emergency situations.