Mosquito Monitoring & Prevention
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain that can be caused by viruses. Symptoms of encephalitis can range from mild to severe. Symptoms include rapid onset of severe headaches, high fever, and mental disturbances such as confusion, irritability, tremors, stupor and coma. Severe cases sometimes end in death or with survivors suffering permanent loss of limb function, reduction of intelligence and/or emotional instability.
Not all types of encephalitis viruses are carried by mosquitoes. However, mosquitoes carry at least two types of encephalitis viruses that cause human disease in Texas. West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis are normally an infection of wild birds but can be passed to other mammals by mosquitoes; in humans both viruses affect mainly individuals over 50 years old or those with weakened immune systems.
Mosquitoes can also infect dogs with heartworm. The worms live in the heart and can severely weaken or kill the dog. Although difficult to treat, this disease is easily prevented by medication that can be prescribed by your veterinarian.
All three of the viruses mentioned above are transmitted by a species of Culex mosquito. Culex mosquitoes, which breed in places like ditches, open septic systems, discarded tires, unused pools, and other assorted containers, particularly in shady areas. Mosquito larvae or "wrigglers" must live in still water for five or more days to complete their growth before changing into adult biting mosquitoes capable of transmitting disease. Often, the number of mosquitoes in an area can be reduced by removing sources of standing water. Hundreds of mosquitoes can come from a single discarded tire and thousands from an untreated swimming pool.
Mosquito-Proof Your Surroundings
- Get rid of old tires, tin cans, buckets, drum, bottles or any water-holding containers
- Fill in or drain any low places in the yard
- Keep drains, ditches and culverts free of weeds and trash so water will drain properly
- Keep roof gutters free of leaves and other debris
- Cover trash containers to keep out rainwater
- Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets
- Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use. Unused swimming pools should be kept chlorinated weekly or treated with mosquito larvicide monthly
- Fill in tree holes and hollow stumps that hold water
- Change the water in birdbaths and plant pots or drip trays at least once each week
- Store boats covered or upside down, or remove rainwater weekly
- Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around the house so adult mosquitoes will not hide there.
- Only a constant, complete program to control mosquitoes will reduce the numbers, the nuisance and the danger of disease