West Nile Virus, which is the most common infection transmitted by mosquitoes, became evident in the U.S. 1999. Mosquitoes also carry other dangerous viruses, such as Zika—which is still a threat in some areas of the U.S.—and dengue fever.
Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and several other serious infections that are on the rise— including Heartland disease, which has been identified in the last few years in Midwestern and Southern states—are caused by tick bites.
“The numbers on some of these diseases have gone to astronomical levels," said Dr. Lyle Petersen of the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases in a recent New York Times article. And while malaria and yellow fever are no longer transmitted in the United States, there is potential for these infections to be reintroduced, Dr. Peterson says.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials say that while state and local pest control programs are at least 70 percent effective, “pest prevention education is falling short."
During summer months, when mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas thrive, the CDC encourages communities to take steps to control these pests by ensuring that window and door screens are in good repair, air conditioners are working, and standing water in flower pots, wading pools, birdbaths, and trash containers is eliminated. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a teaspoon of water.
Managers and boards also can help by informing residents to take the following steps:
>>For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html.