Reports of West Nile virus cases are on the rise across the country, and that includes Florida. Reports are showing that West Nile is set to make records this year, and it is looking like it’s going to be one of the biggest outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus in recorded history. There have been 20 cases reported in Florida alone, this year.
Rising temperatures and increased rainfall levels have likely led to the rise in the numbers of mosquitos this year, as compared to other years. As of August 28, West Nile Virus was responsible for 65 deaths in the United States.
“The CDC is closely monitoring West Nile virus reports from around the country,” said Roger Nasci, Chief of CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch. “Compared to this time last year, the number of reported human cases is much higher. People spending time outdoors, particularly in areas of the country where WNV activity is increasing, should take precautionary measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”
Symptoms of West Nile virus can range from no noticeable symptoms at all, to flu-like symptoms and in severe cases neurological symptoms may appear, including confusion, disorientation, convulsions and lack of coordination. While most infected people fall into the category of displaying no symptoms at all, about 20% of affected people display symptoms of what is referred to as West Nile Fever, which means fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.
There are currently no preventative medications for West Nile virus in humans, and it cannot be treated by medication when it’s contracted, although medical treatment can reduce the discomfort associated with symptoms.
Despite the fear of West Nile, there are precautions that people can take in order to protect themselves against the disease. Tips to protect yourself include:
■Wearing long sleeves and long pants when outside, especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active
■Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET
■Clean storm sewers to reduce mosquito breeding
■Sweep lawn clippings, leaves and limbs from sidewalks, driveways, curbs and gutters
■Remove litter and debris from your yard and the street
■Empty, remove or dispose of anything in your yard that has standing water, including flower pots, toys, plastic sheeting, rain barrels, etc.
■Keep rain gutters cleaned and properly maintained
■Move air conditioner drain hoses frequently and repair household leaks
■Keep doors and windows closed
■Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition
If you suspect your home has a mosquito problem, contact the experts at Service First that can help you determine the best course of treatment and prevention to protect the health of you and your family.
Many of us have spotted bees nests around our homes at some point or another in our lives, and you may not have given it much thought. Particularly if there didn’t seem to be much activity surrounding the nest, but bees nests can actually pose a range of problems for homeowners and families if they’re not dealt with properly.
The bees themselves can pose a health risk for you and your family, if not properly treated. Swarms that can occur around nests are particularly dangerous. African honey bees, also referred to as killer bees, are a type of bee that is particularly frightening if a swarm occurs. These bees spread from South America through the southern United States and they are considered extremely aggressive. They are no more aggressive than the standard honey bee, but in large numbers they can be very dangerous. Between 10,000 and 20,000 honey bees live a typical nest, but there can be up to as many as 50,000. Multiple stings can be particularly dangerous to the elderly and children and can be deadly to those who are allergic.
In addition to potential health risks, bees nests can also mean damage to your home. If a nest of carpenter bees is in or around your home, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in damage to the structure of your home. Bees can also nest in walls, and if left untreated, eventually the honeycomb will saturate your interior wall, causing damage to your home and potentially attracting other pests such as rodents.
It is not recommended that homeowners try to tackle bees’ nests on their own, without professional assistance. If you use chemical sprays and pesticides purchased from your local home improvement store, and they’re not applied to correct location and at the right time of day, it’s likely the nest will survive. It’s particularly difficult for homeowners to try and treat nests inside the walls or in the attic of their home themselves because often they don’t know the actual location of the nest.
If you suspect you have a bee problem around your home, it’s recommended that you call a pest professional for removal. Service First offers free, no obligation estimates for all of your pest problems, don’t risk getting stung-call today!
While summer can be a great time to plan outdoor activities, stinging insects, most commonly bees, hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps can put a damper on plans. While any sting can be painful and cause an annoyance, for some people stings from these insects can also pose a variety of potentially dangerous health risks.
“It’s important to understand what we can do to mitigate the health problems these stinging insects present,” said Dr. Jorge Parada, who is the medical spokesperson for the National Pest Management Association. “For most people, painful stings typically result in swelling and local soreness, but 3 percent of the population experience more widespread allergic reactions, like rashes and hives, and extreme cases can result in life threatening symptoms like shortness of breath.”
Bees and yellow jackets typically only sting when provoked, but wasps are generally more aggressive. It’s important that homeowners don’t try to control a problem with stinging insects on their own, without the help of a pest management professional, because these stinging insects are typically social creatures, that sting for self-protection and the protection of their colony. This means that if you are stung, these insects give off pheromones that may signal other members of their colony to swarm as well. Certain species of stinging insects, particularly carpenter bees, can also cause major structural damage to your home.
Stinging insects typically build nests in attics, crawlspaces, the corners of buildings, under gutters and under patios and decks, so these are places to watch for signs of nests, in order to identify a possibly hazardous problem. To keep these insects from entering your home or office and building nests, cracks on the outside of the building should be properly sealed. These insects are also attracted to open trash cans and food, so be sure to seal trash cans and all food sources when outdoors.
If you suspect you have a problem with stinging insects, contact a pest management specialist immediately to determine the best course of action. If you are stung, and experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness, shortness of breath, or a drop in blood pressure, you should contact 911 immediately.
The trained professionals at Service First can help you properly identify and treat an infestation of stinging insects. Call for a free, no-obligation estimate, to assess your needs.
Here in Florida, we have more known species of mosquitos than any other state! It is a hotbed of insect activity. Mosquitoes are a particularly nasty breed of insect because they feed on human blood to develop their eggs. This year has brought more problems than usual with mosquitoes, with the heavy rainy season so far.
Many people do not know that only female mosquitoes bite humans, and that they can transmit a number of blood-borne diseases, including Malaria, encephalitis, West Nile virus and rift valley fever. Malaria has become one of the most serious health concerns in the world today, and between one and three million people die of malaria each year.
Mosquitoes are very versatile pests, and they can reproduce in pretty much any environment, although all require water to breed. Mosquitoes are particularly prevalent in the floodwaters of Florida, and it’s estimated that there are millions of eggs per acre in areas of Florida such as pastures and citrus groves.
Did you know that Mosquitoes have special sensors to help them detect their prey (YOU!), including chemical sensors that can sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid that is released by all humans and animals during breathing. Mosquitoes can also sense heat, which helps to located warm-blooded mammals. In addition, mosquitos also have visual sensors that help them detect movement.
It can be a challenge to protect your home against mosquitoes, but the best tip for preventing the annoying and potentially dangerous pests to affect your home is eliminate sources of standing water in and around your home. To protect yourself against mosquitoes and the potential health risks they pose, wear clothing that will protect you when outdoors. You can also use a mosquito repellent, although these do contain chemicals which may not be suitable for use directly on skin or for children, so be sure to read instructions carefully. You can also avoid mosquitoes by avoiding the not wearing heavy perfumes, and being outdoors at certain times of day, because they seem to be most active in the morning, at dusk and during the early evening.
If you think you may have a problem with mosquitoes, call Service First for a free, no obligation inspection. For the month of July and August we are offering $50 off the cost of an annual mosquito agreement.
Don’t leave your family, your pets, or your home susceptible to the serious health risks that can come from a mosquito problem!
Bed bugs have become an increasingly prevalent problem across the country in recent years. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the University of Kentucky and the National Pest Management Association showed that 95% of US-based pest professionals have encountered a bed bug infestation in the past year. With summer travel plans looming just around the corner for many people, bed bugs can put a serious damper on your vacation.
There are ways to keep yourself from becoming a victim of the bed bugs bite, which can leave itchy, red welts. The keys to avoiding bringing a bed bug infestation from your hotel to your home include identification, inspection, and careful packing and unpacking. When identifying bed bugs, look for common signs that they may be present, including fecal droppings that look similar to pepper flakes, shed skins and tiny translucent eggs. Bed bugs range in size from 1 to 7 mm in size, and they are reddish-brown in color with flat, oval shaped bodies.
When you first enter your hotel room or accommodations, it’s important to do a thorough inspection, to ensure it’s bed bug free. To inspect your room, pull back the bed covers and inspect under linens and pillows, and use a flashlight if necessary. You should also carefully inspect the seams and sides of mattresses, box springs and bed frame, and behind the headboard. Bed bugs also may be lurking in any upholstered furniture, drapes, around and under nightstands and lamps and around wall hangings.
If you do suspect a bed bug infestation, alert hotel management immediately, so they can work on finding alternate accommodations. If you are given a different room, make sure it is not adjacent, above or below the infested room, because bed bugs can travel.
When packing, hard shelled suitcases tend to be the best for avoiding infestations, because they have less folds and seams where tricky bed bugs can hide. You should pack everything in individual re-sealable bags or in one big plastic bag. You should keep the bag or bags sealed until you need to retrieve a particular item. When arriving in your accommodations, rather than placing your bag on the floor or bed, place it on a luggage rack or in the bathroom.
Careful unpacking can be just as important as careful packing and luggage handling, and upon arriving home, do a thorough inspection of your suitcase while it is outdoors, or in a garage or on a porch. When inspecting your suitcase, give special attention to pockets and linings. Vacuum or steam clean your suitcase or bag before storing, and wash all clothes, even those that are unworn, on a high heat setting and dry them for at least 30 minutes, to get rid of potential clingers. Water must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bed bugs.
Using care and caution can help you enjoy your summer travel plans, without unwanted visitors. If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation call Service First for a free, no obligation inspection and estimate.
While there are numerous bugs to be found in Florida, probably one of the most prominent and well-known is the cockroach. There are over 3500 known species of cockroaches, with at least 70 of those living in the United States. Residents of Florida are probably most familiar with the American Roach, which is actually the largest of all the roach species.
Generally cockroaches are reddish-brown in color, and can grow to be as large as 1.5 inches. They are typically oval in shape, with flat, winged bodies. Cockroaches prefer areas that are warm, mois,t and dark. These pesky critters will hide in dark places during the day and come out to feed on whatever they can find at night.
As you might imagine, Cockroaches are very disgusting pests. They prefer to eat decaying matter and they love sweet, starchy, and greasy foods. But did you know that because they are scavengers that they will eat pretty much anything if necessary. This means they can potentially destroy fabrics, book bindings, and even shoe leather! Wherever cockroaches go, they have the capability to leave a trail of filth. When they run over food they can secrete an oily liquid with a bad odor, that can ruin food and that many people are allergic to, and they can also leave disease behind in their wake.
Roaches are commonly found in a variety of areas, including around the kitchen sink, the drain board, cracks around cupboards and cabinets, behind drawers, around pipes, behind window and door frames, behind loose baseboards or molding strips, on the underside of tables and chairs and in the bathroom.
When dealing with cockroaches, prevention and sanitation are key to the success of avoiding an infestation. Water is more vital to the survival of roaches than food, so it’s important to eliminate sources of water without and around your home, such as leaky pipes, standing water in sinks, plants that have been over-watered and pet drinking sources.
To avoid roaches, it’s also important to store and dispose of garbage properly, wash dishes immediately after use, keep appliances such as toasters free of crumbs and debris, reseal food after opening, and don’t leave pet food sitting out all day.
Chemical treatment alone is generally not the best way to deal with roaches, and will typically lead to insecticide resistance. If you think you have a roach problem, call Service First for a free, no obligation inspection and estimate and get rid of these unwanted visitors for good!
As many of us have already seen, the mild winter coupled with the early arrival of spring have brought an onslaught of pest problems this year, and fleas and ticks are no exception. Fleas and ticks can not only be a nuisance for your family, your pets and your home, but they can also be dangerous.
Fleas thrive in hot, humid weather, and ticks thrive in moist conditions, so the weather combinations in most of the country this spring have been the perfect breeding ground for these pests. Generally, under normal weather conditions, flea and tick problems are rare, but this year, in many places around the country, flea and tick season started as early as January.
Fleas and ticks can carry a number of diseases, including Lyme’s disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These illnesses can lead to serious illness and even death for your family and pets.
When dealing with fleas and ticks, prevention is easier than getting rid of a problem once it’s too late. There are simple steps you can take to avoid an infestation of fleas or ticks, including giving your pets treatments more often than you would during a normal spring season, and searching pets regularly, particularly at the base of their tail. A sure sign of fleas on your pet is the appearance of what looks like dirt on your pet.
You can also keep your home pest free by vacuuming regularly, washing pets’ bedding and maintaining regular pest control your home or apartment. Fleas can often be found in hot, shady areas, so treatments at your home for fleas should extend past the yard and into flower bed and under decking areas. If you suspect you may have a problem with fleas or ticks, or just want to prevent a dangerous situation from occurring, call Service First for a free, no obligation inspection and estimate.