Mosquitoes can spread disease
only when they bite their victim. Although it is commonly called a "bite", the
process is actually a piercing-sucking action. Only the female mosquito bites,
and takes a blood meal. The blood protein is needed to complete the mosquito's
egg production cycle. During the feeding process, the female pierces her victims
skin with her proboscis, (a long straw like structure with a sharp end) injects
her saliva (which contains anti-coagulants) and then sucks the victim's bloods
in through her proboscis. If the victim's blood contains disease-causing
organisms, they too get sucked into the mosquitoes stomach. These organisms are
then maintained within the mosquito and eventually may be injected into the next
victim's bloodstream. In this way the mosquito can spread disease from animal to
animal, animal to man, or even from person to person.THE
In the United States there are now about seven primary
mosquito-borne viruses that are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier in
humans and other animals, causing an acute
infection of the central nervous
system. These include Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) and St. Louis
Encephalitis (SLE) which have been known to occur in Colorado.
In 2003, Colorado recorded the first large scale human epidemic of mosquito
borne disease on record. Although the exact reasons for this wide-spread
epidemic are not entirely clear, Colorado's wet spring and hot summer certainly
played a critical role. These conditions created an abnormally large and
much earlier than normal hatch of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes. This hatch
was approximately one month earlier than normal based on Colorado Mosquito
Control trapping records over the previous nine years on the northern Front
Range. We feel that this early and large hatch of Culex mosquitoes
allowed the virus to replicate and spread rapidly through the bird and existing
adult mosquito populations, which in turn infected the rapidly increasing
Culex populations and eventually allowed the virus to spread to other
animals and humans.
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Q. What can I do to reduce my risk of becoming infected
with West Nile Virus and other encephalidities?
Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are
Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or
DEET since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.
Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin.
An effective repellent will contain 35% DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).
DEET in high concentrations (greater than 35%) provides no additional
Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid
applying repellent to the hands of children. Whenever you use an insecticide
or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's
DIRECTIONS FOR USE, as printed on the product.
Note: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT
effective in preventing mosquito bites.
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