Raleigh is facing an expanding mosquito season, increasing health risks from disease transmission.

North Carolina has seen a rise in mosquito activity, putting residents at a higher risk of vector-borne diseases. According to Michael Reiskind, an entomology professor at North Carolina State University, the longer mosquito season is due to factors such as climate change, land use changes, and invasive species. This has resulted in a significantly different mosquito landscape compared to several decades ago.

Recent studies by Climate Central show that the Southeast region, including North Carolina, experiences the most annual mosquito days, accounting for nearly 60% of the year. The Raleigh area has seen an increase of 27 more days since 1979 with conditions favorable for mosquito activity. This increase in mosquito presence raises concerns about the spread of diseases like West Nile and Zika, posing a threat to public health.

In 2023, North Carolina reported almost 900 cases of illnesses transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes. To raise awareness about the risks of vector-borne diseases, the North Carolina Department of Health launched a “Fight the Bite” campaign during Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month in April. The campaign aims to educate residents about preventive measures they can take to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses.

Experts recommend taking steps to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as using insect repellent with DEET, wearing protective clothing, and installing or repairing window screens. Additionally, the “Tip and Toss” method can help eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from various sources at least once a week. It is advised to consult with healthcare professionals or local health departments before traveling to areas where exotic mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent to ensure proper precautions are taken.

The longer mosquito season is due to factors such as climate change and land use changes that have led to an increase in standing water sources which serve as breeding grounds for these pests. Invasive species also play a role in this phenomenon.

The Southeast region is particularly vulnerable due to its high levels of annual “mosquitodays” which account for nearly 60% of the year compared with other regions in the country.

In recent years there has been an increase in cases of West Nile virus and Zika virus transmission across North Carolina which highlights the need for greater awareness around vector-borne disease prevention.

To combat these issues experts advise taking steps such as using insect repellent with DEET when outdoors during peak hours when these pests are most active.

Additionally wearing protective clothing like long sleeves and pants can help prevent bites while being outdoors.

Installing or repairing window screens can also help prevent unwanted guests from entering your home.

Finally regularly checking standing water sources around your property like birdbaths or flowerpots can help eliminate breeding sites for these pests.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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