We think of mosquitoes as pests, but did you know they're actually one of the deadliest creatures in the world, killing more than one million people worldwide every year.
It's not the a mosquito bite per se that can land someone on their death bed, it's the diseases that these bugs can transmit, such as malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus, chikungunya, and dengue fever.
Fortunately, malaria, which results in the most mosquito-related deaths, doesn't exist in North America, but other potentially deadly viruses, like West Nile and Zika do.
On Monday, health officials reported that they're investigating multiple reports of Zika and the West Nile virus. Here's what you need to know:
The Alabama Department of Public Health posted a news release through their Facebook page, cautioning residents about mosquito bites.
"The Alabama Department of Public Health reports investigations of several cases of Zika and West Nile virus in Alabama residents," a link to their official announcement reads.
"Mosquitoes can transmit viruses when they bite, causing illnesses that range from mild to severe or even fatal,"� Sherri Davidson, interim state epidemiologist, said in the news release.
For the Zika virus, most people experience mild symptoms like muscle pain, joint pain, a rash and fever. But for pregnant women, the virus can cause birth defects.
"Zika is now known to cause birth defects and other poor pregnancy-related outcomes if infection occurs during pregnancy."�
As for the West Nile virus, the side effects can be more severe.
That being said, people who have been infected by these viruses have experienced no symptoms whatsoever. It really depends on the person.
The good news is that health officials haven't found any local transmission.
"To date in Alabama, the Zika virus has only been identified in individuals known to have traveled to areas where Zika is known to be endemic," the press release stated.
Unfortunately, there isn't a vaccine that can prevent these viruses, all we can do is take these precautionary steps:
To prevent attracting mosquitoes on your skin and yard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following these tips.
1. Choose a mosquito repellent that actually works.
Mosquito repellents that come from natural ingredients seem like the right choice, but many studies have proven their ineffectiveness.
The CDC recommends using EPA-registered repellents containing 20% DEET.
If you rather not spray DEET on your body, but want to find an effective way to repel mosquitoes, a study found that OFF!'s Clip-on is the only wearable mosquito repellent that actually deters those pesky bugs.
And don't forget to follow label instructions carefully when using any repellent.
2. Buy a window mosquito net that allows fresh air in, but keeps those pesky bugs out.
If your windows are falling apart like mine are, and you don't have the time and money to get them fixed ASAP, buy a cheap window mesh net.
For only $6, you can keep those pesky bugs out of your home, giving you peace of mind.
3. Empty standing water in your yard.
Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, so be sure to get rid of any water around your home after a storm.
This includes flowerpots, buckets, old tires, children's pools, clean clogged gutters, clear drainage ditches, and pipes of debris.
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[H/T: Fox News]
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