Experts Advise Vigilance to Avoid Mosquito Bites, Spread of Chikungunya Virus

Experts at Orkin are urging vigilance for Americans to help avoid Chikungunya virus after confirmed reports of the first locally transmitted case in the United States.

Mosquitoes become infected with Chikungunya when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

Experts from pest control leader Orkin say two types of mosquitoes in North America -- Asian tiger mosquitoes and yellow fever mosquitoes – are common in the United States, especially in the Southeast.

The Asian tiger mosquito 

also known as the “forest day mosquito,” is active during the day, unlike other some other mosquito species. The Asian tiger mosquito is fast-moving and more aggressive than some other species. It has a black and white body with striped legs and measures about 5 mm in length.

The yellow fever mosquito 

has white stripes on its legs. It thrives in tropical habitats and is common in the Southeast United States in the summer months. It is also active during the day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most cases of Chikungunya virus confirmed in the United States have been contracted by travelers visiting affected areas outside the U.S., including the Caribbean. The CDC reports as of July 15, a total of 234 Chikungunya cases have been reported in 31 states.

“We are still learning about the role mosquitoes play in spreading Chikungunya virus,” said Orkin entomologist and Technical Services Director Ron Harrison, Ph.D. “That’s why it’s important for families to start taking precautions against mosquitoes now.”

Because there is no cure or vaccine, the only prevention from Chikungunya virus is avoiding mosquito bites.

Orkin recommends the following tips to help prevent activity and bites from the Asian tiger, yellow fever and other mosquito species:

  • Apply an EPA-approved insect repellent before heading outside.

  • Wear long sleeves and pants outside when mosquitoes are present.

  • Empty any standing water from bird baths, flower planters, toys and playground equipment outside the home to help prevent water from collecting. Mosquitoes only need a small amount of water to lay their eggs and reproduce.

  • Clean gutters and downspouts regularly or cover them with mesh to help prevent leaves and debris from collecting and holding water.

  • Ensure window and door screens around the home fit tightly and have no holes to help keep mosquitoes from making their way into the house.

  • Eliminate standing water inside the home that may attract mosquitoes to spaces like kitchen sinks and pet bowls.

If bitten by a mosquito and experiencing symptoms of Chikungunya virus – described by the CDC as fever and joint pain, headache, muscle pain or rash – consult a physician immediately.

For more information about mosquito prevention, visit Orkin.com.

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