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If you need another reason to ward off mosquitos, this is it

Up until pretty recently, mosquitos in America haven’t been a huge problem. Sure, they may have ruined a backyard barbecue or forced you to stock up on anti-itch lotion, but those are minor inconveniences. That all changed, however, when it was discovered that these bugs were spreading serious diseases – like Zika – in different parts of the country, including South Florida.

A recent study has more disturbing news: the Aedes aegypti mosquito – the main one doing all the damage – is capable of spreading many diseases at one time.

Researchers at Colorado State University took Zika, dengue, or chikungunya and exposed them to hundreds of mosquitos. They also exposed all three to 48 mosquitos. After looking at the gut, legs, and saliva, it was discovered that 92 percent of the mosquitos had all three viruses.

Six saliva samples tested positive for each of the diseases two weeks after exposure, and another two samples came back with positive results three weeks later. Even more troubling is the fact that researchers said that even if the virus hadn’t been detected in the saliva, the mosquitos may still have been able to spread disease. People involved in the study were surprised by the findings.

“Based on what I know as a virologist, epidemiologist, an entomologist, I thought that the viruses would either compete or enhance each other in some way,” said Greg Ebel, co-author of the study. “On the one hand, all of these viruses have mechanisms to suppress mosquito immunity, which could lead to synergy. On the other hand, they all likely require similar resources within infected cells, which could lead to competition. We didn’t see much evidence of either one of these things in mosquitoes that were infected in the lab by multiple viruses.”

Though the results from the study are worrisome, we shouldn’t panic yet, says Dr. William Schaffner, an expert on infectious disease. Calling the study a “fascinating notion,” he stressed that evidence of co-infection has not been found in the wild.

More research needs to be done to understand a mosquito-borne disease and the risks involved, Schaffner said. This is especially true considering that some blood tests have trouble figuring out exactly what someone has been infected with.

“That’s part of the difficulty if you use the blood test, the viruses are sufficiently similar so that the blood tests are nonspecific and you’re not sure,” he said.

Keep your family safe from mosquitos with a misting system

Whether mosquitos carry one disease or several, the most important thing is to make sure they don’t come near you or your family. One of the best ways to fight them is with a misting system. Once installed, it does all the work, which means you can set it and forget it. To learn more about how a misting system can protect your home from mosquitos, contact Platinum Mosquito Protection.

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