closeup of mosquito drinking blood out of person, possibly carrying and transmitting a mosquito borne disease like west nile virus

Florida’s tropical landscapes, temperate weather, and captivating beaches have long been cherished by residents and visitors alike. What makes the area so attractive also makes it the perfect breeding ground for mosquito-borne illnesses.

For the first time since 2003, the Sunshine State has a dark cloud looming: confirmed cases of locally transmitted malaria. With the resurgence of this disease, the need for effective mosquito prevention measures is more important than ever. 

Understanding the symptoms of common mosquito-borne diseases can help you seek timely medical intervention and minimize the risk of severe complications. However, the best way to avoid these mosquito-borne illnesses is to bring in professional pest control and reduce the number of mosquitoes on your property.

Malaria in Florida

Also known as a plasmodium infection, malaria is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite from the plasmodium genus that is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The identified cases in the US involve the P. Vivax malaria parasite, which typically causes milder symptoms but poses a fatal threat to pregnant individuals and children. 

Cases of malaria are reported nationwide every year, but they are typically imported from overseas travel. The latest Malaria outbreak in Florida was reported in 2023, and another outbreak is anticipated for 2024.

What Symptoms Should I Look For? 

Malaria is a flu-like disease, with symptoms presenting around two weeks after infection, but it can lie dormant for up to a year. Symptoms include

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Body Aches 
  • Headache 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Muscle or joint pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Cough 

Some individuals experience malaria “attacks,” which look like shivering or chills, followed by high fever or sweats and finally a return to normal temperature. If you are experiencing these symptoms and suspect malaria, please seek medical treatment

How Do I Minimize the Risk of Malaria? 

While it’s not possible to guarantee complete prevention of mosquito bites, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk: 

  • Install door and window screens at all entry points to create barriers. 
  • Use spray repellents that have DEET or picaridin to deter mosquitoes. 
  • Address standing water by treating and/or removing it promptly. 
  • Hire mosquito control experts.

What is Dengue, and What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Also known as Dengue fever, this disease is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. The latest known case was reported in August 2023.

Dengue is often characterized by high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, rash, and mild bleeding (such as nose or gum bleed), and can appear four to ten days after an infected mosquito bite. 

What is West Nile Virus, and What Symptoms Should I Look For? 

West Nile virus is a disease that causes West Nile fever, and is spread by the Culex mosquito. With its recent spread in Florida, detection and prevention efforts are ramping up for the 2024 season.

Most people infected with the West Nile virus do not experience any symptoms. However, about one in five infected people may develop a fever along with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. More severe infections can lead to encephalitis or meningitis, which include symptoms like high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.

How You Can Prevent Mosquito Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes are the carriers of the malaria parasite, transferring it from infected individuals to healthy ones through their bite. The two species of mosquito known for transmission are Anopheles quadrimaculatus and Aedes aegypti, both of which are common in Florida. Aedes mosquitoes are especially concerning, due to their involvement in also spreading other diseases like dengue and Zika, and their ability to adapt to urban environments.  

Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases can cause severe illness and even death, so professional mosquito extermination is important now more than ever. 

Bug Out, Your Partners in Florida Mosquito Control 

Dedicated to providing our community with quality pest control services, the highly trained experts at Bug Out have over 60 years of experience with the unique pest challenges of Jacksonville FL. Mosquitoes are a year-round threat in our region, but with our industry-leading innovative solutions in mosquito control, you can rest easy. 

Don’t hesitate to protect your home and family, give us a call today for a free quote!

Florida Mosquito-Borne Illnesses Serving Ocala, St Augustine, Fruit Cove, Palm Valley

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