Orlando Mosquito AdviceEverything you need to know, to avoid and deter the risk of mosquito bites in Florida.
If you are headed to Orlando on vacation, chances are you will need to take some precautions against our airborne ‘friends’!
An odd bite here and there can be enough to drive you mad, with sleepless nights and itchy days making things worse as the warm air aggravates your bite wounds!

Read our advice about avoiding and treating those pesky Mossie bites!

ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE
(Various external sources – subject to change, so please contact a medical expert!)

  • Symptoms

    • Symptoms only show in around 1 in 5 infected people
    • Symptoms include
      • mild fever
      • conjunctivitis (red, sore eyes)
      • headache
      • joint pain
      • a rash
    • Treatment

      • Rest and drink plenty of fluids
      • No vaccine or treatment is currently available
      • The symptoms will naturally disappear after a few days
    • Spread

      • Aedes mosquitoes bite an infected host and transfer it to another through a further bite.  Wherever an infected person is around mosquitoes, there’s a risk of transmission to any other area that can also has mosquitoes.  (Humans are transporting the disease, the mosquitos simply act as a bridge between the humans).
      • The Zika virus was first discovered in Africa in 1947
      • It has been proven that it may be possible to transmit the virus through intercourse
    • Risks

      • For most patients, there’s little risk once infected
      • For pregnant mothers, there is a risk of birth defects (microcephaly)
      • The World Health Organization advises that only current pregnancies are at risk.  Future pregnancies aren’t affected after the infection has passed.
      • The US Centres for Disease Control says Zika lingers in the blood for about a week and can be spread by sexual intercourse.
      • EDITOR OPINION: Currently, the mosquito identified as the greatest Zika Virus risk is the Aedes mosquito.
        According to the BBC News researchers;
        “unlike the mosquitoes that spread malaria, they are mostly active during the day”
        In our totalorlando.com team’s many years of travel and living in Orlando, we can’t recall seeing a daytime mosquito!
        Of course, do check the latest information and seek advice before traveling!
    • How long is Zika Contagious

      • After infection occurs, the contagious period is estimated to range from between one week for blood born transfer (mosquitoes) and two weeks for transfer by semen.
      • Reinfection is thought not be be likely once that original infection period has passed.
    • Avoiding the risk of Zika Virus

      • Take additional caution in countries with warmer climates and know mosquito populations
      • Use Deet repellants
      • Stay indoors during evening times
      • Avoid unprotected sex for 8 weeks when in our leaving an area of risk
      • Consult your doctor if you suspect that you may have been exposed to Zika or displayed symptoms.
      • Follow our avoiding mosquitoes tips and advice section below.
    • Reliable Sources as of Aug 2016

      • BBC News – Zika What you need to know
      • World Health Organization – Zika Virus Fact Sheet
      • USA CDC – Centre For Disease Control – Zika Virus Update
      • Disclaimer:  This article is not definitive and may be subject to change.
        Please seek advice from your own doctor or health advisory service and use the best resources available prior to traveling.  We write our blogs in good faith, with information from good resources, so please check the links above for the very best and up to date information.

What are those pesky Mosquitos up to when they bite me?

It’s not a pleasant thought, but here goes;
First of all they aren’t biting, they are inserting their razor sharp proboscis (spike on their nose) deep into your flesh.  This insertion process doesn’t cause the pain particularly as the proboscis is too fine to trigger most nerve sites.
What does cause the pain is the anticoagulant anti-clotting fluid that the Mosquito injects into your flesh in order to stop your blood from clotting as the creature draws up your blood to feed.
The fluid is so potent, that the skin reacts quickly and the stinging sensation signifies the start of the whole itching and bleeding process that we know so well.

How can Mosquitoes be avoided?

Using the time of day is the best way to avoid mosquitoes, by staying indoors.
They can in theory appear at any time of day, especially if disturbed from bushes or grasses, but generally speaking, you are most likely to see them from an hour or so before dusk until an hour or so after dawn.
Avoiding locations near fresh water is another good technique, and although ponds, lakes and rivers are a problem to look out for, just a few droplets or a small trap of water can be enough to support hatching larvae!
Keep kids buckets, spades etc dry or away from the patio areas wherever possible.
Keep gutters and containers clean and dry.
Hose down patio areas in the morning rather than late evening to avoid attracting mosquitoes into the area by the damp conditions.
Mosquito’s rarely bite in open sunny, dry and breezy conditions.  To the opposite, they love warm, dark, damp, still conditions.
Food is another attractor, an evening BBQ can result in the diners being dined upon as the irresistible aroma of meat draws the creatures into your personal space.
Many residents in ‘mosquito rich’ environments comment that kids getting in and out of chlorinated pools appear to be safe from Mosquitoes.

How can I repel Mosquitoes?

Apart from Deet, many techniques are often fairly ineffective deterrents against a determined and hungry army of female ‘Skeeters’.
Citronella is a favoured deterrent with locals, the candles & torches are relatively cheap, but in most people’s experience seem to offer limited effects.
New devices that work on a ‘heated chemical pad‘ are also effective to some degree and can reduce the presence of flying insects notably, but, does not stop them completely.  It only takes a few to brave the fragrance during an evening and you will be covered in polker dots next day!
If you must brave the outdoors, a combination of devices and repellants is often the best method, but NEVER MIX SKIN CONTACT REPELLENTS and always follow the guidance on the repellents as many are not suitable for use on kids.
Many repellants contain DEET, a very powerful chemical that can seriously harm if used incorrectly.  Always follow the product’s guidance carefully.
The US military conducted tests and concluded that 30-40% DEET products were more than twice as effective than the larger 75% DEET content products.

If my clothes cover me completely, will I be safe from Mosquitos?

Actually, no, although clothing of any kind is better than nothing, but even quite thick materials such as denim can be breached by a mosquito, they can go right through effortlessly!  The same applies to fabric deck chairs.
They can attack your butt with ease from behind your chair’s fabric!
Although not a cast iron defence, loose fitting long sleeve shirts and long trousers are better than nothing, especially if the lighter colored materials are chosen.

Why do Mosquitoes bite me more than other people?

Mosquitoes detect their prey by using many complex methods.
One of the biggest methods being CO2, exhaled from our mouths and nasal passages.
Octenal is also exhaled and produced as part of the perspiration process and is understood to be an important attractant.
Lactic acid, a chemical produced as part of muscular activity is also known to attract mosquitoes.
Body heat also may allow mosquitos to locate a victim from further distances.
A more complicated and not yet understood factor is the effect of skin products and fragrances that are also believed to have repellant and attraction effects!
All of the factors above, clearly indicate that the unique metabolism of each and every one of us could create a different attraction to our blood sucking foes as they aren’t just biting us all randomly!

Florida Mosquito Facts

Only the Females bite to feed on blood to supplement their plant nectar diet
The Males feed on plant nectar
Females live about three weeks in summer and several months in winter
Water is an essential habitat to the life cycle of all mosquitos
Most Mosquitoes venture no further than 1 mile from their larva stage water source
Mosquitos use CO2, Heat, Octenol, Lactic Acid and light to detect their victims
There are around 150 Mosquito species in North America
Although rare in Florida, mosquitoes can infect humans with malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dog heart-worm and more recently Zika virus.
Females can lay 100 – 300 eggs at a time.
Mosquito season is pretty much year round due to the fact that mosquito eggs hatch at temperatures above 50F (temperatures are often above that in Florida, even in the cooler months.  If it’s warm, mosquitoes will be there, and Orlando is famed for its warm climate.
Having said that, June through October does suffer from the warmest, dampest conditions, making it perfect for mosquito larvae to hatch.

Repellant Safety Facts

  • DEET can damage paint & plastic surfaces (watch that nail polish girls!)
  • Always try to use 25% DEET products or less on children
  • Never apply any repellants to Infants (read product labels carefully)
  • Never light Citronella Candles Indoors
  • CDC DEET Advisory Sheet July 2016 (PDF DOWNLOAD)

Mosquito myths explained

  • There’s no evidence that Garlic or any other food substance is an effective countermeasure against Mosquitos
  • Mosquitoes get blamed for the deeds of other insect bites such as ‘no-seeums’
  • People with Blood Type ‘O’ are more susceptible (but not proven?)

Treating Bites

  • Hydrocortisone creams can be obtained over the counter at pharmacies
  • If other symptoms develop or the wound becomes infected, seek medical help immediately.
  • But most importantly of all; resist all temptation to rub and itch any bite wounds!
  • Keep bite areas cool.  Warm skin seems to agitate and inflame the reactions, so ice packs can alleviate the irritation.
  • Always seek medical advice if a wound becomes infected, or other symptoms develop!

Risks from Mosquitoes

Although the realistic chances of becoming seriously affected by Orlando mosquito bites is very low, avoidance is without doubt the best method of defense.

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