Mosquitoes are active: What can you do?

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Ron Harrison, Ph.D.
Ron Harrison, Ph.D.

Summer is in full swing, signaling a time for cookouts, pool parties and family vacations.

But it's also primetime for one of the most dangerous pests – mosquitoes.

If you've been outside lately, you've probably had to swat or slap away a mosquito or two. For many cities, the mosquito problem is more than a nuisance – and the issue is not confined to a particular region. From Georgia to New York, and the West to the Great Lakes, mosquitoes abound.

Here's a look at the top 20 cities affected by mosquitos ranked by the number of mosquito customers Orkin serviced in 2014:

  1. Atlanta
  2. Chicago
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Detroit
  5. Houston
  6. Raleigh – Durham, N.C.
  7. Boston
  8. Dallas – Fort Worth
  9. Charlotte, N.C.
  10. Nashville, Tenn.
  11. Memphis, Tenn.
  12. Grand Rapids – Kalamazoo – Battle Creek, Mich.
  13. Miami – Fort Lauderdale
  14. Richmond – Petersburg, Va.
  15. Minneapolis – St. Paul
  16. New York
  17. Cleveland – Akron
  18. Greenville – Spartanburg, S.C., Asheville, N.C.
  19. Albany – Schenectady – Troy, N.Y.
  20. Knoxville, Tenn.
Even if your city isn't on the list, your facility's residents, patients, visitors and employees could still be at risk. Depending on the city's geographic location, mosquito season can run from April to October or even year-round. Mosquitoes affect every state. Healthcare and long-term care facilities are particularly vulnerable because many patients and residents may suffer from weakened immune systems.

One bite, many dangers

Mosquito bites can cause allergic reactions and spread diseases, such as West Nile virus and other conditions that cause encephalitis — swelling of the brain. Some mosquitoes also carry a relatively new virus in the United States called chikungunya virus.

Mosquitoes become infected with chikungunya virus when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Once infected, they can spread the disease to others through their bites. The concern has become so great that, earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upgraded chikungunya virus to a “nationally notifiable condition” in the United States, providing state and local health departments with standard definitions for reporting and tracking cases. So far this year, more than 70 American cases of chikungunya virus have been reported, mostly in travelers returning from the Caribbean and other affected areas outside the U.S. But a dozen locally-transmitted cases were reported in Florida last year.

Much like West Nile virus, there is no vaccine or cure for chikungunya virus, so preventing mosquito bites is the only protection against the virus.

Stop the sucking

There are several measures you can take at your facility to help protect your team, residents and patients and prevent conditions conducive to mosquitoes.

For employees and residents:

  • Encourage anyone who spends time outside, especially in the facility's courtyard areas, to apply an EPA-registered insect repellent before heading out.
  • While it may be warmer, wearing long sleeves and pants outside limits the surface area for mosquitoes to strike, especially from dawn to dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

Around your facility:

  • Inspect for standing water accumulating in parking lots that should be drained or treated. Mosquitoes only need a small amount of water – just a few inches – to breed.
  • If applicable, clean gutters and downspouts regularly and cover them with mesh to help prevent leaves and debris from collecting and holding water when possible.
  • Install window screens around your facility. Make sure any existing screens fit tightly and have no holes to help keep mosquitoes from making their way inside.
  • Make sure your facility has positive airflow – that is, air blowing out of your facility when the doors open. To test this, drop a piece of paper at one of your entrances and see which way it blows. If it blows inside, work with an HVAC professional to create positive airflow.
Should someone at your facility suffer from a mosquito bite – symptoms include itching, soreness and swelling around the bite – apply a cold compress or calamine lotion to the affected areas, and take a mild antihistamine to relieve itching. If symptoms get worse or trigger an allergic reaction, contact a physician immediately.

Using these steps, you can stay on guard against mosquitoes all summer long.

Ron Harrison, Entomologist, Ph.D., is Director of Technical Services for Orkin. He can be reached at Visit for more information.  


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