Are you bothered by mosquitoes this summer? You are not alone.
Nuisance insects are making a ruckus in Canada, with higher-than-usual numbers seen in parts of the country due to the hot and humid climate, raising concerns about related diseases, particularly West Nile virus in humans.
Manisha Kulkarni, a medical entomologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said:
“We had a warm and wet spring, which seems to have facilitated mosquito breeding.
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Warming from climate change could lengthen the mosquito season in Canada, typically between May and October each year, according to experts.
And if mosquitoes are active most of the year, it poses a “greater risk” to humans, wildlife and animals susceptible to mosquito-borne diseases, Kulkarni said.
“With climate change, models and projections are that we’re going to see these mosquito populations expanding increasingly northward into more areas.”
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A study published last year in The Lancet predicted that rising global temperatures would make malaria and dengue more climate-adapted, especially in already endemic regions of Africa, the Americas and the Eastern Mediterranean. .
A 2021 study showed that by 2070, there could be up to 4.7 billion more people at risk from both diseases.
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Globalization and the climate crisis have also brought new vectors to Canada that did not exist before, said Rosalind Murray, assistant professor of biology at the University of Toronto in Mississauga.
“We are beginning to see new species of mosquitoes, and in those species we may begin to see an influx of new diseases and different kinds of diseases that they can carry.
National mosquito surveillance data for this year are not currently available, according to Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
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Murray said it’s too early to tell mid-season if there will be more mosquitoes in Canada this year as data are still being collected at the local and provincial levels. However, some signs point to increased activity.
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In British Columbia, Observers in the Lower Mainland said more and more prolonged rainfall this summer resulted in more mosquitoes.
Mosquito populations nearly tripled their historical average last month due to increased rainfall in the city of Regina. That number has since declined, according to the city’s latest data.
Experts say peak activity depends on local conditions and species type.
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Kulkarni said August is a critical month for the main vector that carries West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne virus that can cause serious illness.
They tend to thrive in stagnant water such as clogged gutters, bird baths and flower pots, she said.
Local and state jurisdictions monitor mosquito activity by tracking West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
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Last week, Manitoba confirmed its first human case of West Nile virus, which has been circulating in parts of Canada this summer.
Localized cases have occurred in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
“When we start seeing positive pools of West Nile virus-positive mosquito numbers collected at different locations, we start to have aggressive mosquito control in those areas as well,” Kulkarni said.
In 2021, 35 human cases were reported to PHAC across Canada. In 2020 there were 163.
Some people are more attractive targets for mosquitoes than others, experts say.
In addition to individual characteristics such as bacterial colonies on the skin and carbon footprint, behavior also makes a difference.
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“The more we breathe, move and wave, we actually attract more mosquitoes,” says Kulkarni.
Dark colored clothing attracts mosquitoes and other insects. Therefore, it is recommended to wear light colored and thick clothing.
Drinking alcohol also makes you an attractive target, said Victor Szegelski, a lecturer in biological sciences at the University of Alberta.
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Although encounters with pesky insects are inevitable, there are steps people can take to protect themselves, such as using repellents.
Murray recommended using a repellent containing DEET.
“They are most active at dusk and dawn, which is why that’s the most important time to make sure you’re covered,” she said.
Both Murray and Kulkarni warn against pooling of water around the home, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“They can thrive in very little water, so if something is left unattended for more than a few days, you should make sure it is emptied.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Will there be more mosquitoes? Why Canadians Could Increase After This Summer – National
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