Dengue virus emerged as a global problem in the 1950s. Endemic in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands, Dengue occurs less frequently in the continental United States. However, with the recent spotlight cast on mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika and West Nile viruses, the threat of Dengue in the United States is also becoming a growing concern. The State of Florida, in particular, has seen a number of significant outbreaks of Dengue-like diseases in recent years, including:

  • 88 cases in Key West between 2009-2010
  • At least 28 cases throughout the state in 2013
  • Most recently in June 2016, a reported case of Dengue contracted in Key West
Dengue Virus is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. As many as 400 million people are infected annually.

These outbreaks underscore the potential public threat of the disease, and why effective mosquito control is critical to any effort made to stop the spread of Dengue.

Dengue is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, most commonly the Aedes aegypti species. This species is most prevalent in the southernmost American states, with heavy populations in Texas, Florida and Hawaii. According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of Dengue fever include high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding. There is currently no known cure for Dengue, so controlling the mosquitoes that carry Dengue is essential to fighting the disease.

For residents in areas populated by the Aedes aegypti species, the most important preventative measure they can take is to remove standing water wherever possible to eliminate breeding sites. This species can breed in as little as one tablespoon of water, so every effort should be made to eliminate standing water in buckets, old tires, gutters, birdbaths, flower pots and more. Additionally, residents should protect themselves indoors with the use of air conditioning and properly maintained window screens, and outdoors with the use of mosquito repellents containing DEET and loose fitting clothing. More mosquito prevention tips for homeowners can be found at mosquito-awareness.com.

Timeline of Dengue Virus emergence.

For mosquito control professionals to maximize the effectiveness of their efforts, a comprehensive Integrated Mosquito Management program should be implemented. The four-phased approach includes larval/adult mosquito sampling to monitor populations, source reduction to reduce standing water where possible, biological control incorporating native or introduced mosquito predators and the application of products.

While the ideal mix of products and application methods will vary by region and species of mosquito, most programs will rely on a combination of adulticides and larvicides. Adulticides kill the fully developed adult mosquitoes that spread diseases and offer the quickest approach to reduce the size of mosquito populations. Zenivex® adulticides feature Etofenprox, and they are classified as reduced risk by the EPA.

While the use of Zenivex® adulticide products are formulated to provide immediate mosquito control for the adult mosquito population, the use of larvicides is essential to controlling potential mosquito outbreaks in the future. Altosid® larvicides are available in multiple formulations featuring (S)-methoprene, an insect growth regulator (IGR) able to stop mosquitoes from becoming breeding, biting adults without impacting non-target organisms. FourStar® microbial larvicides are a great complement to Altosid® products, offering control of mosquito larvae through the use of naturally occurring bacteria and a “dual action” release technology.

Dengue, and other mosquito-borne diseases, can be a threat to public health, but one that can be minimized through effective vector control efforts. To learn more about mosquito control, contact Senior Field Technical Service Manager Mel Whitson at 321-480-0478 or mwhitson@central.com or find your local sales representative.