While the Tampa Bay area may not be the worst in the whole continental United States when it comes to mosquitoes, it comes awfully close. The tampa Bay area and St. Petersburgy both moved up significantly in Orkin’s annual ranking of the country’s top fifty cities for mosquitoes, earning eleventh place as of this year.
First place, for the fourth year in the row, actually goes to Atlanta, Georgia.
Since the winged bloodsuckers tend to become more active as the temperatures rise, Orkin releases its list each year just before summer begins.
While many of the cities on the list are in the mid-Atlantic or Southeastern states, some chillier places like Chicago and New York, made the top five.
And besides making life outside more than a little uncomfortable, mosquitoes are one of the world’s most dangerous pest insects, for both humans and animal life alike. Internationally, they can transmit crippling diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever through their bites. But in the United States in particular, mosquitoes are known to transmit West Nile virus, and other illnesses that can cause encephalitis, or brain swelling.
WNV cases have been reported in all of the continental United States. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not have symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.
You can reduce your risk of WNV by using insect repellant and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.
Residents should take steps to guard against Zika transmission given the link between Zika infection of pregnant women and the occurrence of birth defects in their babies. According to the CDC, Zika virus is chiefly spread through mosquito bites.
“Mosquitoes are a public health threat,” said Orkin entomologist Mark Beavers, Ph.D. “Zika virus is currently one of the most notable illnesses that can be spread by mosquitoes, and it will likely be a problem again this year, especially in areas where the type of mosquito that can carry the virus thrives.”