It has jokingly been called Minnesota's State bird.  The World Health Organization (WHO) isn't laughing.  They say more than 700,000 people die from mosquito-borne illnesses every year.

Worldwide COVID-19 or the coronavirus has claimed the lives of 286,328 since it's discovery in China last November.  The number as of May 12, 2020.

We can be thankful our spring has been relatively dry and cool but make no mistake the little buggers will be out soon and they love our blood.

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases.  The deaths are caused by either parasites, bacteria or viruses according to WHO.  Malaria causes an estimated 219 million cases globally and results in more than 400,000 deaths every year.  Most of the deaths occur in children under age 5.  Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted by Anopheline mosquitoes.

Dengue is the most prevalent viral infection transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.  More than 3.9 billion people in over 129 countries are at risk of contracting dengue, with an estimated 96 million symptomatic cases and an estimated 40,000 deaths every year.

Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors.  The majority of these diseases is highest in tropical and subtropical areas and they disproportionately affect the poorest populations.

Probably the most common disease carried by mosquitoes in this country is West Nile Fever.  Ticks are also disease carrying insects.  I lost a good friend last year to Lyme disease.  He battled it for nearly a decade and told me it was not a pleasant experience.

Getting it diagnosed took a few years.  He told me he believed he contracted it from a tick near his family cabin just outside Alexandria, Minnesota.

Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious pathogens between humans, or from animals to humans.  Many are blood-sucking insects.  Often after a vector becomes infectious they are capable of transmitting the pathogen for the rest of their life during each subsequent bite/blood meal.

The average mosquito lives about a month.  Males less than a week, females about one to two months.  Only the females bite.

According to the University of California-Davis Mosquito Research Program, mosquitoes have been around for at least 210 million years.

Prevention.com touts 11 ways to prevent those itchy bites.

  1. Blow them away with a breeze.  Almost any amount of wind makes it very difficult for mosquitoes to fly.
  2. Avoid peak mosquito hours when you can.  Dusk and dawn are their feeding times.  These are typically the calmest times of day.
  3. Rub on some DEET before you head outdoors.
  4. If you can't deal with DEET there are other options recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  5. Try to stay cool.  Mosquitoes are drawn to you in part by your sweat.
  6. Wear tightly woven, light-colored clothes.
  7. Give your heart a breather.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the number one thing mosquitoes look for when identifying food sources.  When your heart rate is elevated, your body produces more CO2.  Anything that cranks up your metabolic rate will increase that production.
  8. Get rid of standing water around your home.  This is where they lay their eggs.
  9. Consider adding plants that repel mosquitoes to your property.  Things like citronella, lemongrass, marigolds and basil.
  10. Spray your yard for mosquitoes.  A professional can spray an insecticide.
  11. Avoid scented products.  Any scented perfume or lotion can potentially attract mosquitoes.