The West Nile Virus Mosquito Is Now Becoming More Challenging to Kill

The West Nile Virus makes many Americans ill with flu-like symptoms in some people who get it. In rare cases, this pathogen causes problems that affect the spinal cord and brain. This infection first appeared in the latter part of the 90s. Since then, insecticides have been the primary means to control it. This method is the main reason why the West Nile Virus is getting more difficult to kill.

West Nile mosquito

The Insecticide Enigma

Most communities resort to using insecticides in controlling mosquito-borne diseases like the West Nile Virus. These chemicals kill the mosquito carriers of this disease. Because of the increasing tolerance of mosquitoes to insecticides. Studies show that most mosquitoes do not die from insecticides anymore. Instead, they tend to live longer when they are exposed to these chemicals. This is a major issue, especially if people are trying to control their populations in the wild.

The Symptoms

Back in the fall season of 1999, this disease first infected the United States. It led to at least 55,000 cases. It also nearly led to the deaths of 2,800 Americans. The peak of the West Nile Virus infection was in 2003. It affected about 10,000 individuals and caused 264 of them to die. In 2022, the virus affected a tenth of the population. It also resulted in 90 deaths.

Woman with a headache
Woman with a headache

Most of the infected do not exhibit symptoms. Those who do, experience the following:

  • Rashes
  • Headaches
  • Joint pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting

In rare cases, patients can experience swelling in the membranes around the spinal cord and brain. They can also experience brain swelling as well. These more serious symptoms lead to death.

The Mosquitoes

Culex mosquitoes carry the West Nile Virus. They are found all around the world. These mosquitoes are common in the United States. They bite overnight, at dawn, and dusk. Most people wake up with a mosquito bite. This is proof that a Culex mosquito has made a snack or a meal out of you.

Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus

How the West Nile Virus Spreads

Mosquitoes get the pathogen by biting wild birds that have the virus. Controlling mosquito populations is the best means to decrease or eliminate the infection. The fastest, most effective way to do this is to spray insecticides in the wet areas where they thrive. There is warm, wetter weather in North America now. That is why Culex mosquitoes are migrating. They have been found in Canada. Studies show that The United States of America and most of Canada’s southern areas. The widespread infection combined with the mosquitoes’ tolerance to insecticides makes them difficult to kill.

How Resistance Happens

Studies show that mosquitoes are supposed to die when exposed to high concentrations of insecticides. But since the concentrations aren’t enough, mosquitoes have evolved with an inherent resistance to these chemicals. These resistant mosquitoes are not harmed enough so they can live on to make new generations of equally resistant mosquitoes.

Insecticide-resistant mosquito
Insecticide-resistant mosquito

The West Nile Virus mosquitoes are now resistant to insecticides as well. It seems that these mosquitoes develop resistance in every area where insecticides are used. These places include Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and China. The resistance is becoming predictable and very concerning.

Protecting Yourself From the West Nile Virus

You can do many things to protect yourself from Culex mosquito bites and the illnesses they transmit. Wearing pants and long-sleeved tops can be challenging when it’s hot but it can protect your skin. You should also remove the breeding spots in and around your house by cleaning your yard regularly. Pour out stagnant water in pots, old tires, and buckets. Treat your clothes with picaridin and DEET as well.

Clean the yard regularly
Clean the yard regularly

Culex mosquitoes are developing a resistance to insecticides. This makes insecticides ineffective in controlling the harmful mosquito populations. The best way to reduce the cases of the West Nile Virus is to protect yourself and your household. Doing so can help prevent the occurrence of more West Nile Virus infections.