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For the first time in 2 decades, malaria has been locally transmitted within the United States, with 7 cases in Florida and 1 in Texas within the last 2 months. Florida is under a health advisory due to a mosquito-borne illness. The most recent case was confirmed in the second week of July 2023, according to a report from the Florida Department of Health.
Historically, cases in the United States have been limited to travelers from tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with about 2,000 cases per year under these conditions; however, mosquito species that can spread malaria have always been present in the United States, and the risk of local disease transmission has been an ongoing threat. While malaria is a health and safety concern for populations in areas of localized transmission, local governments and public health officials employ proper pest management to help control the spread of mosquito populations to other regions of the country.
Malaria, a serious and sometimes fatal disease, is usually transmitted by the bites of female-infected Anopheles mosquitos. When a mosquito bites an infected person, they take a small amount of blood that contains microscopic malaria parasites. After about a week, when the mosquito is ready to feed, these parasites mix with the mosquito’s saliva and are injected into the person being bitten. Since malaria is found in red blood cells, it can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or shared needles or syringes.
According to the CDC, malaria is not a contagious disease like the cold or influenza and cannot be sexually transmitted. It can cause significant harm to individuals with flu-like symptoms, including:
- Muscle ache
For most, symptoms begin 10 days after the initial infection, but a person may feel ill as early as 7 days or as late as a year later. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and are concerned about malaria, please contact your physician for further testing and evaluation.
When it comes to helping prevent the Anopholes mosquitoes around your property, more traditional methods of mosquito control, such as habitat modification (trimming landscape around your property to limit breeding habitats) and debris removal (like underbrush and trash that can retain water and attract mosquitoes), are not as effective. Source reduction (removing standing water sources around your property, including gutters, parking lots, and drains where mosquitoes can breed) is also not an effective prevention technique because they primarily breed in freshwater sources such as lakes, ponds, streams, and permanent water ditches where breeding source reduction is impossible. The most effective preventive method to help control Andopholes mosquitoes is exclusion tactics, or the repairing, sealing off, and shutting down of any common entry points for pests around your facility.
Easy, preventive ways to control these pests around your facility
- Source Reduction. The removal of standing water remains the most effective preventative measure to help reduce mosquito populations. Because these insects need water to survive the first 3 stages of their lifecycle, draining gutters, checking flat roofs and parking lots, and resolving any drainage issues in your facility will help reduce the possibility of mosquito infestation.
- Habitat Modification. Trimming landscaping and cutting down on shady areas will limit the prime breeding habitats that adult mosquitoes frequent.
- Debris Removal. Clear away underbrush and any trash that can add shade or increase moisture retention to help make breeding grounds unfavorable for mosquitoes.
- Exclusion. Preventive pest control tactics like adding screens to windows and doors, repairing any holes or tears in windows, and sealing areas around air conditioners can all help protect your space from the inside. Contact your pest control provider to make the best decision for your facility.
Best Practices to Help Prevent Mosquitoes on Your Property
The truth is, unless you are in the region of localized malaria transmission, you have an incredibly minimal threat of malaria transmission through mosquitoes. However, mosquitoes are still a nuisance to you, your staff, and any patients in your facility. If you are concerned about mosquito infestations in general, the best way to help prevent mosquito populations is to implement preventive mosquito control measures around your facility.
Mosquitos usually appear after the final spring frost and can remain late into the fall, depending on your region’s temperature and humidity. The warmer and wetter the climate, the more mosquitoes you’ll have. Multiplying very quickly, 1 mosquito can become 400 in under 2 weeks. Here are 3 signs that you may have a mosquito problem:
- You can visibly see or hear mosquitoes flying or swarming
- You can see young mosquito larvae in standing water sources
- You or other people on your property experience increased mosquito bites or other annoying encounters.
While mosquitoes are a great nuisance, they are also one of the world’s greatest public health threats. For the first time in 20 years, conditions make it possible for mosquitoes to carry malaria, along with other serious diseases, in several local communities in the US. By controlling the population of mosquitoes near you, you can help reduce the spread of malaria and other diseases carried by these pests. Work with your pest control provider to find the best solution for your facility to help keep your staff and patients safe and bite-free.