Mosquitoes | St. Louis Public Radio

Mosquitoes

This year’s catastrophic flooding has created hard times for many people in Midwest, but it’s created a nirvana for mosquitoes.

Kansas City and the surrounding region could potentially become a hotbed for mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile virus in the coming years due to increasing temperatures and more frequent flooding, which are predicted by climate experts.

The major flooding from spring may leave behind pools of water with ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes.
Flickr | wild_turkey5300

The major flooding this spring may bring more mosquitoes in the summer months.

Swollen rivers will leave behind small ponds or pools as they recede back to normal levels. Those bodies of standing water offer ideal breeding grounds for Culex mosquitoes, the ones that predominantly carry the West Nile virus.

"We're not saying this is an excellent outcome for the status or the persistence of this native mosquito," said Tyson Research Center director Kim Medley.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

As you’re swatting at swarms of mosquitoes this spring, take comfort in this fact: Our bloodsucking foes have their own parasites.

The tiny waterborne parasites only infect mosquitoes — but not every species is susceptible.

The invasive Asian rock pool mosquito, first found in Missouri in 2005, appears to be virtually immune to a protozoan parasite in Missouri. Biologists at Tyson Research Center now say this invasive mosquito acts like a vacuum, sucking up parasites that attack a native mosquito species.

Healthworkers test a village chief for lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, in the Ivory Coast.
Gary Weil | Washington University

Elephantiasis and river blindness are parasitic diseases straight out of a horror movie.

In both cases, insects bite humans and transmit tiny parasitic worms — which cause debilitating illnesses.

Washington University School of Medicine researchers are leading an international team in a long-term effort to eradicate the two diseases. The group recently received up to $24.7 million in grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to test the safety and effectiveness of several drug regimens in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mosquitoes with the West Nile virus have been found in St. Louis County for the first time this sumemer
(via Flickr/John Tann)

Health officials have detected the West Nile virus in mosquitoes found in St. Louis County.

The West Nile virus can potentially be deadly, but cases in humans are relatively rare. No Missouri residents have contracted the disease so far, this year, according to federal health data.

Researchers at Washington University are working to understand how a common mosquito-borne virus causes chronic arthritis.
USDA

Washington University researchers are one step closer to understanding how a common virus transmitted by mosquitoes causes chronic arthritis.

Like other mosquito-borne diseases, patients with chikungunya virus usually develop a fever and muscle aches. There is no known treatment for the virus, but it often clears up on its own within several weeks. For some patients, however, chikungunya causes severe arthritis that can last for months or even years.

The major flooding from spring may leave behind pools of water with ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes.
Flickr | wild_turkey5300

Facts and fiction continue to swirl about mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika and West Nile viruses. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed what you need to know about such illnesses and how to prevent them.

Saint Louis University is currently at the forefront of trying to develop a Zika vaccine. Sarah George, a researcher with the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development, joined the program on Tuesday to discuss her research and prevention tips.

Zika virus, here shown as a digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph, can be transmitted by mosquitoes or sexually.
Cynthia Goldsmith | Centers for Disease Control

A Saint Louis University analysis of mosquito migration patterns and sexually transmitted diseases places the St. Louis region on a map of counties that could see an elevated risk for Zika infections this summer. The virus is spread by mosquitoes but can also be transmitted sexually for several months after symptoms occur.

However, the overall risk in the continental United States is still very low, study author Enbal Shacham said.

(via Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Illinois' first case this year of West Nile virus in a bird has been confirmed. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) the infected starling was collected by the Monroe County Health Department on June 27 in Waterloo, Ill.

This pattern of detection is part of an annual trend seen by health officials in which the West Nile virus is first detected in mosquitoes, followed by birds, and then, people. No cases have been reported so far this year in humans. However, according to health officials, it is only a matter of time before a person is infected.

Mosquitoes with the West Nile virus have been found in St. Louis County for the first time this sumemer
(via Flickr/John Tann)

A big jump in human cases of West Nile Virus in Illinois, Texas and Arkansas is prompting St. Louis County to boost its spraying to combat mosquitoes.

"An extra team of vector control employees will spray strategic areas in the early morning hours this week to reduce the number of breeding adult mosquitoes and knock down any that may be carrying West Nile Virus," Vector Control Operations Manager Drew Hane said. That team is a supplement to evening and overnight spraying efforts.

The county health department is urging residents to take the following steps:

Warm weather means more bugs, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Apr 2, 2012
Lone Star ticks are one of the most common ticks in Missouri. It carries ehrlichiosis, which causes flu-like symptoms, among other diseases.
Provided |U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This year’s mild winter and early spring has plants flowering and putting out leaves about three weeks sooner than usual. Ticks and mosquitoes have also been spotted early.

So with all this warm weather, we can expect a particularly bad bug season, right?

Missouri Department of Conservation natural history biologist Mike Arduser says not necessarily. “I hate to use the phrase “old wives’ tale,” but…”

The major flooding from spring may leave behind pools of water with ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes.
Flickr | wild_turkey5300

Despite cooler weather over the past several days, it's still mosquito season, and that means there's the potential for West Nile Virus cases.

The St. Louis County Department of Health has reported its first suspected human case. A 12-year-old boy from Wellston was briefly hospitalized with West Nile symptoms, though the department says he has returned to normal activities.

The county says there was one human case last year.

(via Flickr/James Jordan)

Two men in Illinois are the first human cases of West Nile virus in the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says a Cook County man in his 80s got sick earlier this month. A 30-year-old from south-central Illinois became ill in July. In 2010, the first human case was reported on Aug. 31 - 61 people eventually tested positive.

Mosquitoes in St. Louis Co. test positive for West Nile Virus

Jun 23, 2011
Mosquitoes with the West Nile virus have been found in St. Louis County for the first time this sumemer
(via Flickr/John Tann)

The Saint Louis County Health Department has found the first mosquitoes of the season carrying West Nile Virus.

Mosquitoes testing positive for the virus have been found in St. Louis Co. communities including Clayton, Florissant, Hanley Hills, Lemay, Manchester, Mehlville, Richmond Heights.

No human cases have been reported.

Health concerns in the wake of flood

Jul 4, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 4, 2008 - Our area has not seen any flood-related disease outbreaks to date, however, we need to remain on high alert and take steps to protect ourselves, according to Dr. Farrin Manian, chief of infectious disease at St. John's Mercy Medical Center. This includes exercising caution regarding mosquitoes.