Tomorrow is the fifth annual World Malaria Day and this year’s theme is simple: “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria.” To help do our part, Mosquito Squad continues to support Malaria No More in its goal of reaching near zero deaths in Africa by 2015. In fact, we recently committed more than $50,000 to help fight this treatable and preventable disease. If you want to help us in our fight against malaria, donate at SwatMalaria.net on World Malaria Day!
Established by the World Health Assembly, World Malaria Day was started in 2007 to provide “education and understanding of malaria.” Its first theme was “Malaria – a disease without borders.” Although malaria is heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, it, at times, reached epidemic levels in many parts of the world, including Europe and North America.
In honor of World Malaria Day, here are some facts about the disease that you may not know:
- The world malaria comes from the Italian words for “bad air” because the disease was first thought to be a result of bad swamp air.
- It is the world’s deadliest disease, killing over 650,000 people a year, most of which are children
- Some Egyptian mummies show signs of malaria
- Aristotle, Homer and Hippocrates all described the symptoms of malaria in their works
- Shakespeare alludes to malaria in eight of his plays
- In Europe, it spread as far north as Russia
- The Incas were the first to find relief from malaria using bark from the cinchona tree
- George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant all suffered from the disease
- British physician Ronald Ross was the first to discover that malaria was carried by the mosquito in 1897
- The US Center for Disease control was initially set up with the mission to control the spread of malaria
- Malaria was eradicated in the US in the 1950s
- Malaria mosquitoes need to drink blood every three days
- Symptoms of the disease usually appear 10-15 days after a person is infected
World Malaria Day is a day to spread awareness of the disease as well as a day to take action. A donation of just $10 to Malaria No More can help protect a mother and three small children against this terrible illness. To give now, visit SwatMalaria.net.
I always thought that to have ticks in your yard you had to live in areas with large deer populations (as many deer ticks are carried by and bite deer, hence the name). Well, this year I have been proven wrong. You see, my husband, Drew, and I live in the city of Richmond. Although we have a yard, we are far away from the wooded areas I thought ticks lived and I had never seen a tick in our yard or on our dog. I thought we were safe…
In an effort to help our grass grow and flowers bloom, Drew has been spending more time in our yard watering, trimming etc. (I could say I have been too, but that would be a lie). In our front yard, our hose is located in the shade behind some large azaleas that we have. It’s one of the few places of our yard that gets more shade than sun and holds moisture pretty well. After turning off the hose and before coming inside the other day, what do you think he found crawling up his leg? The dreaded tick! Drew was lucky he was wearing long pants and was able to see and remove the tick before it bit. Since then we’ve been extra careful to check ourselves and our dog when coming in from the outside.
Because of the mild winter that many areas of the country experienced this year, more ticks are expected this spring. And with the increase in the reported cases of Lyme disease, every family should be extra vigilant when spending time outdoors, whether in the woods or sitting on your deck. To help fight the bite, we at Mosquito Squad are happy to offer up our 6 Cs of tick control you can utilize in your yard.
1. Clear out debris. Debris often accumulates in moist shady areas where ticks thrive (they usually die in sunny dry areas).
2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter, brush off sidewalks and mow tall grass to cut down on the places ticks can harbor.
3. Choose plants that aren’t attractive to deer. In areas where deer are present this is very important because deer will carry ticks right into your yard.
4. Check hiding places periodically. Ticks like to hide along the base of fences and brick walls.
5. Care for family pets. Ticks can easy hide in the fur of your pets. If your animals (like our Wiley) spend time in areas where ticks may be present, make sure you apply a topical tick medication.
6. Call the pros. Mosquito Squad’s tick control eliminates ticks before they can bit and danger your friends and family.
In a year when ticks are expected to be worse than normal, it’s important to be extra careful. Make sure you do a full body check when coming inside and, in the case that you are bitten, remove the ticks properly and place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested for tick-transmitted diseases.
Recent research by University of North Carolina and Vanderbilt University professors have brought the medical world one step closer to creating a vaccine to prevent Dengue Fever.
Although it is believed that humans have been fighting the dengue virus for hundreds of years, it wasn’t documented until the 1950s when it reached epidemic levels in the Philippines and Thailand. Sixty years later and it is estimated that 40% of the world’s population is at risk of dengue. Almost all the cases that were diagnosed in the United States had been contracted elsewhere while traveling. Contact between the mosquitoes that carry dengue is very uncommon in the U.S.
The dengue virus is transmitted through the bites of several types of mosquitoes under the genus Aedes which primarily live in tropical and subtropical environments. Symptoms of dengue can start 4-7 days after infection and include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and rashes. In a small number of cases, the fever can reach a critical phase. There are four closely related strands of the virus and severe cases are more common when a person is infected with two different strands of dengue.
Until now, how the human immune system fights the dengue virus has always been somewhat of a mystery because tests had only been conducted with mice. For this study, Aravinda M. de Silva, PHD. Of UNC School of Medicine, was able to study blood cells from people that were infected with dengue while traveling abroad. De Silva and her team were able to locate what part of the virus the immune system attacked.
“’This is a huge issue for vaccine development,’ said lead study author Ruklanthi de Alwis, a graduate student in de Silva’s lab. ‘We have to figure out a way to develop dengue vaccines that induce the good response that protects against infection, at the same time avoiding the bad response that enhances disease.’” – source.
With nearly half of the world’s population at risk of contracting this vector-borne disease, it’s great news to see a better understanding of how the virus works in the human body and how our immune systems respond. Until then it is important for residents to decrease the probability of being bitten by a mosquito buy getting rid of breeding sites and proper use of mosquito control.
More information on this study will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
With such a mild winter and warm spring, mosquitoes and ticks are already out and about, and biting. There has been an influx of news regarding ticks this year and the diseases they may carry, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. According to the Wall Street Journal “between 1992 and 2010, reported cases of Lyme doubled, to nearly 23,000 and there were another 7,600 probable cases in 210, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But CDC officials say the true incidence of Lyme may be three times higher.”
The high rate of tick activity so far in 2012 has experts predicting an increase in Lyme disease. Lyme disease, transmitted through a tick bite, can cause nausea, fatigue, joint pain and headaches. If caught early, it can be treated with antibiotics, but if it goes untreated it can cause more serious ailments including shooting pains, dizziness, chronic fatigue and heart palpitations.
As we have mentioned in previous posts, doctors are still debating whether chronic Lyme disease exists and if it does, the best ways to treat it. As the conversation continues as to its validity, some researchers are moving forward and looking for a cure for chronic Lyme.
Over the last two and half years, Dr. Newell-Rogers, a professor at Texas A&M, and Viral Genetics have been testing a new drug that could be prescribed for chronic Lyme disease. Their findings and a proposal for a clinical trial were recently submitted to the FDA for consideration. Time for Lyme, an organization that focuses on the research of tick-borne illnesses, has financed the pre-clinical research. “At present, there is no recognized treatment for Lyme once it has developed into its chronic, long-term state,” says Peter Wild, executive director of Time for Lyme. “We are hopeful that Dr. Newell-Roger’s work will provide the solution that long-term Lyme disease sufferers have been hoping for, for decades.” Read more about the study here.
As the FDA decides on whether or not to move forward with Dr. Newell-Roger’s trial, it is important that we all protect ourselves from ticks in a year that they are expected to be VERY prevalent. Here are some tips:
- Reduce tick exposure through landscaping. Ticks live in moist, shady areas, so separate your outdoor living spaces from their habitats using gravel or wood-chip borders. Mow tall grasses and don’t position playgrounds along the wooded areas.
- Treat your pets. Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses can harm your pets as well. Ask your veterinarian about tick medications.
- Dress appropriately. Wearing loose-fitting, long sleeved and long legged clothing will reduce your chance for tick bites.
- Check your body for ticks. It’s important to check yourself thoroughly for ticks after being outside. Pay special attention to feet, ankles, behind the knees and armpits.
- Remove ticks promptly. If you see a tick on you, make sure to remove it promptly and place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested for Lyme.
If you have a problem with ticks in your yard, you may need professional treatment. Mosquito Squad’s tick control service helps fight Lyme by killing ticks before they can bite you. To learn more, please visit our website or contact your local Mosquito Squad office.