More Mosquitoes Means More Outdoor Risk for Exercisers

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • It’s a banner year! And this time, that’s not a good thing for people who like to exercise outdoors.

    It turns out that this year more mosquitoes are biting across the United States, due to a combination of drought, heavy rain and heat. The worst place for this onslaught is the Southeast, which according to researchers is enduring over one summer an invasion of three years’ worth of these pesky critters. That’s because that area had two years of drought, which meant the mosquito eggs didn’t get wet enough to hatch. Then the area received incredibly heavy rain earlier this year that not only hatched this year’s crop, but the dormant batches of eggs from the previous two years as well.

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    The Associated Press reported that mosquito traps in Connecticut collected more than double the usual number of mosquitoes while Minnesota had approximately three times the 10-year average. Parts of California had five times more than the average of one specific type of mosquito.

    It turns out that some people are tastier to mosquitoes than others. For instance, mosquitoes find people who have Type O blood particularly savory. Also, approximately 85 percent of people put out a chemical signal advertising the type of blood they have. No matter what their blood type, these people tend to get more bites. The emission of carbon dioxide when breathing out is another factor. While that’s natural, adults emit more than children. Body size and height also make a difference since these affect how much carbon dioxide you exhale. Other factors that increase your chances of being bitten include sweating (which you’ll probably do while exercising), having a high body temperature, having skin bacteria, and being pregnant. Drinking a beer also seems to make people tastier for mosquitoes, although researchers don’t know why.

    It’s important to make yourself less inviting because mosquitoes can carry diseases. These include West Nile virus (WNV), LeCrosse encephalitis (LAC), St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), yellow fever and dengue. Dengue causes very uncomfortable symptoms and has increasingly become more frequent. EEE is among the most serious of diseases caused by mosquito bites since it affects the central nervous system. EEE can cause severe complications and even death. SLE also attacks the central nervous system. LAC is rare, but seems to occur in children who are younger than the age of 16. WNV is completely different. “WNV might be described in one of four illnesses: West Nile Fever might be the least severe in characterized by fever, headache, tiredness and aches or a rash. Sort of like the ‘flu’. This might last a few days or several weeks,” states the American Mosquito Control Association website. “At least 63% of patients report symptoms lasting over 30 days, with the median being 60 days. The other types are grouped as ‘neuroinvasive disease’ which affects the nervous system; West Nile encephalitis which affects the brain and West Nile meningitis (meningoencephalitis) which is an inflammation of the brain and membrane around it.”

  • Needless to say, it’s important to take proper precautions when you’re planning to outdoors to avoid being bitten and avoiding potential diseases that can be brought on by these bites. Let’s talk about what you need to do to avoid these bites. According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the steps you should take need to include:

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    • Avoid areas where there is a large infestation of mosquitoes.
    • Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Therefore, you should avoid exercising or doing any unnecessary activities outdoors during this time frame.
    • Dress appropriately through wearing long pants, long-sleeve shirt and hat when you’re outdoors.
    • Use a mosquito repellant that has DEET.
    • Drain all water-holding outdoor containers around the home.
    • Drain any flooded basements and crawl spaces as quickly as possible.
    • Certain groups of people are more prone to get mosquito-borne illnesses. These groups include the very young, the elderly and people who have depressed immune systems. Therefore, these groups should be extra-vigilant to avoid being bitten.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    American Mosquito Control Association. (2011). Mosquito-borne diseases.

    Borenstein, S. (2013). Mosquitoes worse this summer. Associated Press.

    Fard, M. F. (2013). Why some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others.

    Maryland Department of Agriculture. (nd). Tips for avoiding mosquito bites.

Published On: August 22, 2013