Buzz Off: New Survey Finds Americans Underestimate the Presence of Mosquito-Related Disease in U.S.

National Pest Management Association advises the public to take greater precautions against mosquitoes

FAIRFAX, Va. (August 10, 2015) – When it comes to summer pests, mosquitoes are arguably the most loathed of the season. Mostly detested for their pesky buzzing and itchy bites, mosquitoes are also vectors of dangerous diseases. With mosquito season at its peak and lasting well into October, the National Pest Management Association surveyed American adults about their knowledge of mosquito diseases in the U.S. and bite prevention practices.

“Our survey found that although many Americans are aware of the prevalence of West Nile virus in our country, less than 10 percent are aware of two other mosquito-borne diseases, dengue and chikungunya, which are found in the U.S. And despite their general awareness of mosquito-transmitted disease, only about half of the population uses mosquito repellent, and even fewer implement other crucial prevention methods,” said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “With mosquito activity at its peak, we encourage the public to take steps to protect themselves and their families from coming into contact with these pests.”

Although West Nile virus (WNV) is the most common mosquito-borne disease transmitted in the U.S., there are several others transmitted within the country and/or diagnosed in travelers who become infected while abroad. The threat of new viruses being brought in and transmitted in the country is real, as evidenced last year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded the first-ever cases of mosquitoes spreading chikungunya within the continental U.S.

The NPMA found the following in its July 2015 survey:

  • When asked about mosquito-borne diseases, 78 percent of Americans are aware that WNV is found in the U.S., while only nine percent each say that chikungunya and dengue are found in the U.S.
    • According to the CDC, as of August 4, 2015, there have been 90 reported human cases of WNV and 3 fatal cases reported in Arizona, California and Texas, a number that is expected to climb through the season. There were more than 2,000 human cases reported to the CDC’s ArboNET in both 2013 and 2014, and since 2009 there have been more than 41,000 human cases reported and 1,765 deaths.
    • The CDC also reports a total of 265 chikungunya virus disease cases from 36 U.S. states, with all reported cases occurring in travelers returning from affected areas. In 2014 there were several locally-transmitted cases in Florida.
    • According to the CDC, most dengue cases in the U.S. occur among residents of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Samoa and Guam.
    • When it comes to prevention techniques, NPMA found 59 percent of Americans use mosquito repellent to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes; 42 percent install screens on windows and doors; 41 percent remove and clean up areas of standing water around properties; women (36 percent) are more likely than men (26 percent) to avoid going out during peak mosquito hours of dusk and dawn; and less than one quarter of the population (23 percent) avoids extended periods of time outdoors.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the NPMA from July 22-24, 2015 among 2,024 adults, ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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  The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.