Fight the Bite:


Today, August 20, is internationally recognized as World Mosquito Day.  This annual observance honors the discovery by Sir Ronald Ross, a British doctor living in India, that the transmission of malaria is directly related to mosquito bites.  Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902 for the discovery that bites from a female Anopheles mosquito carry the plasmodium parasite from one infected human to another causing a blood infection we call malaria.

Up until this point, it was widely believed that malaria was spread through “bad air”, hence the name malaria, derived from mala aria in Italian.  Ross’ discovery laid the foundation for scientists and doctors to better understand the deadly role of mosquito borne illnesses, specifically malaria, which cause more than one million deaths annually.  It is commonly thought that mosquitoes are responsible for more deaths every year than any other single cause.

Mosquito Squad, in conjunction with Malaria No More, works tirelessly to provide diagnosis, medicine, and prevention tools (mosquito nets & insecticide) to the most affected parts of the world.  It is our mission here at Mosquito Squad of Birmingham to help eradicate the spread of malaria and improve the quality of life for all global citizens.

Even though most people view mosquitoes simply as pests we know that they are infinitely more dangerous than a pesky annoyance.  We at Mosquito Squad of Greater Birmingham and proud to help fight mosquito- and tick- borne diseases here in central Alabama through preventative measures and education.  We offer a targeted outdoor insect control services for both residential and commercial clients in the area.

To find out more about World Mosquito Day or make donations towards the cause visit the Malaria No More website. 

The Medical Minute:

Tips for Avoiding Ticks and Lyme Disease

When a mosquito decides to dine on your blood, you typically know it – there’s pain, itch, and annoyance. Ticks, on the other hand, take a stealthier approach, burrowing into hard-to-spot areas and hanging around for hours or days at a time.

The blacklegged deer tick, which lives in much of the northeastern United States and the upper Midwest, can cause Lyme disease, a bacterial infection named for the Connecticut town where it was discovered in the 1970s.

Often diagnosed by the telltale bulls-eye rash it produces, the disease is also known to be the cause of unexplained fatigue, chills, fever, headaches and muscle or joint pain. Drooping or paralysis of one side of the face can be another indication of the disease.

While many people who get Lyme disease find a tick on their bodies or develop the rash, those who experience only the other symptoms can be diagnosed using a blood test that measures the body’s immune response to the bacteria that causes the disease.

“Because of the way the bacteria works, once it is through the skin, it can go anywhere in the body,” said Dr. Kit Heron, a family medicine physician with Penn State Hershey Medical Group in State College. “Your symptoms depend on where it goes.”

Many cases are treated with a three-week course of doxycycline or another antibiotic, which can often cure the disease. As with most illnesses, the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better.

“The longer the bacteria stays in your body, the more time it has to damage tissues,” Heron said.

Scientists are still researching whether the disease can resurface once treated.

“Once you hit it with antibiotics, most cases resolve without issue,” Heron said. “We have a fairly reliable treatment regimen, but we’re still working on the finer points of it.”

Preventing Lyme disease doesn’t involve confining yourself indoors or cocooning yourself in plastic wrap for a walk in the woods. Using an insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET – as well as wearing long pants and long sleeves when walking in areas of high grass or leaf litter – can help keep the unwanted parasites at bay.

When you return indoors, toss your clothes in the dryer on high heat for an hour to kill any hitchhikers. Inspect your skin thoroughly and pull off any interlopers with sharp tweezers.

“We don’t recommend squishing them,” Heron said. “But do toss them in alcohol or put them on sticky tape so they don’t reattach to someone else.”

Many times, ticks hide in hard-to-detect areas such as the scalp, groin, back, armpits and the backs of your legs.

“If it’s in a spot you can’t get to or if you feel uncomfortable taking it off, call your doctor,” he said. “A tick has to be on you for some period of time – usually more than 24 hours – before it causes problems.”

The Medical Minute is a weekly health news feature produced by Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Articles feature the expertise of Penn State Hershey faculty physicians and staff, and are designed to offer timely, relevant health information of interest to a broad audience.

World’s First Malaria Vaccine Gets Green Light From EU Drug Regulators (Source: Reuters)


LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) – The world’s first malaria vaccine got a green light on Friday from European drugs regulators who recommended it should be licensed for use in babies in Africa at risk of the mosquito-borne disease.

The shot, called RTS,S or Mosquirix and developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKlinein partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease and could help prevent millions of cases of malaria in countries that use it.

Recommendations for a drug license made by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are normally endorsed by the European Commission within a couple of months.

Mosquirix, also part-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will also now be assessed by the World Health Organisation, which has promised to give its guidance on when and where it should be used before the end of this year.

Malaria killed an estimated 584,000 people in 2013, the vast majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 80 percent of malaria deaths are in children under the age of five.

Andrew Witty, GSK’s chief executive, said EMA’s positive recommendation was a further important step towards making the world’s first malaria vaccine available for young children.

“While RTS,S on its own is not the complete answer to malaria, its use alongside those interventions currently available such as bed nets and insecticides would provide a very meaningful contribution to controlling the impact of malaria on children in those African communities that need it the most,” he said in a statement.

Global health experts have long hoped scientists would be able to develop an effective malaria vaccine, and researchers at GSK have been working on RTS,S for 30 years.

Hopes that this shot would be the final answer to wiping out malaria were dampened when trial data released in 2011 and 2012 showed it only reduced episodes of malaria in babies aged 6-12 weeks by 27 percent, and by around 46 percent in children aged 5-17 months.

EMA’s recommendation is that the shot should nevertheless be licensed for use in babies in the full age range covered in the trials — from 6 weeks to 17 months.

Some malaria specialists have expressed concern that the complexities and potential costs of deploying this first vaccine when it only provides partial protection make it less attractive and more risky.

However Joe Cohen, a GSK scientist who has led the development of Mosquirix since 1987, said on Friday he has no doubt the vaccine could significantly reduce the toll of sickness and death caused by the malaria among African children.

“I have absolutely no reservations in terms of rolling this vaccine out,” he told Reuters. “Why? Because the efficacy, when translated into cases averted and deaths averted, is just tremendous. It will have an enormously significant public health impact.”

(Editing by Alison Williams)

This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Get A Mosquito Bite (Source: Huffington Post)


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It’s the height of summer, and naturally we’re going on hikes, camping trips and hanging out in our backyards. And the mosquitoes are loving it.

On warm weather days around dusk and dawn, mosquitoes come out to play and bite unsuspecting humans everywhere (some people are actually genetically predisposed to attract mosquitos, according to one study).

According to Jonathan F. Day, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, mosquito bites happen when a female mosquito probes the skin with her mouth and finds a capillary bed — meaning a network of capillaries that supply blood flow to veins and arteries — close to the skin’s surface.

“As part of this probing process, the mosquito releases saliva under the host’s skin at the site of each probe,” Day explained. “The saliva contains proteins, which the host’s immune system sees as foreign substances.”

This causes an immediate immune response at the site of the bite and that’s how you end up with a hot, itchy raised welt.

Although most mosquito bites just lead to a bump and few itchy days, mosquitos can cause severe allergic reactions and even carry disease. And how do you know if your mosquito bite is something more? We’ve got you covered:

‘Tis the Season for… Ticks states that every year, 300,000+ new cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC.  In fact, Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing bacterial infections in the USA today.  There has been over a 100% increase in Lyme disease cases in the past 10 years alone according to Billy Finch in a recent article posted on  Lyme disease is on the increase along with other tick borne illnesses, like Rocky Mountain Fever, Heartland virus, and Babesia.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  And today that is still true.  Because it mimics so many different diseases, Lyme disease is often called the “Great Immitator.”  Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as common diseases like the flu to less common and more frightening diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Lupus.

As we start into the late summer season, we are about to enter “Tick Season.”  Most ticks, based on their natural life cycle, make a resurgence  in late August/early September so the time to begin prevention is now.

As we look forward to fall, football, and other cooler weather pursuits, here is a look at some myths and facts about ticks:

MYTH:  Once you’ve been bitten by a tick you’re infected.

FACT:  A tick must be attached to your body for 24 hours before it can infect you, your children, or your pets.  Not ALL ticks carry disease, but to be on the safe side it’s best to remove them ASAP with tweezers or needle-nose pliers and keep an eye out for early symptoms of tick borne illnesses.  It’s an old wives tale that you can remove a tick with perfume, alcohol, or Vaseline.

MYTH:  Ticks fall from trees.

FACT:  Ticks attach to the lower extremities of your body.  They have an innate urge to crawl UP your body, and not down.  If you find a tick on your head that means it has been there a while.  If you are an outdoorsy person, check yourself frequently for ticks.

MYTH:  Ticks die out in the winter so I only need to worry about the warmer months.

FACT:  Ticks remain active year round.  There is no “off season” for ticks.  However, because of their natural life cycle we see them start to make a strong come back in the late summer/early fall.

MYTH:  I can’t do anything to prevent ticks in my outdoor spaces so I just won’t worry about it.

FACT:  There are treatments we can provide to help you manage and eliminate your tick population.  At Mosquito Squad of Birmingham we offer mosquito barrier spray services which kills mosquitoes, mosquito eggs, adult fleas and adult ticks.  We also provide tick tubes as one of our services.  Our tick tubes are strategically placed biodegradable tubes designed eliminate ticks as soon as they hatch.

If you would like more information about our tick elimination services please call us at 205.380.7755.