If you feel like you’ve noticed more annoying insect bites every summer…it’s not your imagination playing tricks! Mosquitoes are on the rise (as are tick and flea bites). And with more bloodsuckers at large, has come infections caused by these bites…especially mosquito-borne infections.  

From 2004 to 2016, more than 640,000 cases of mosquito maladies, such as Zika, West Nile, and Lyme, were documented by the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS). Not only did the cases go up, but nine new infectious diseases were identified, too!

Sadly, this uptick in bugs is yet another dangerous side effect of our man-made warming world. As climate change heats the planet, insects that previously were stopped dead in their tracks (in flight) in colder climates now creep, crawl, and buzz further and further north. And, with that migration comes a grab bag of unwanted hitchhikers like, Zika and West Nile virus. Additionally, people have been traveling more than ever in human history. As our friends and family globetrot, they pick up exotic bug-borne disease and carry them—in their bodies—to new locales (worst souvenir ever, right?).

Every year, 1 million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne illnesses, making mosquitoes the most dangerous living organism to all of human life. 

There are currently 11 known mosquito-borne infections. These diseases are transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. When the mosquito bites, it “spits” a little squirt of special saliva into your skin to keep the blood from clotting. Spitting and then sucking blood creates a path that allows the viruses to enter a person’s body. Every bite is like a tiny inoculation of a virus or parasite…then once inside, they just multiply. 

Mosquito-borne illnesses include:

  • Zika virus
  • West Nile virus
  • Malaria
  • Dengue
  • Yellow Fever
  • Chikungunya
  • Louis Encephalitis
  • LaCrosse Encephalitis
  • Western Equine Encephalitis
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis
  • Dog Heartworm

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

Scary, right? Fortunately, with knowledge comes power, so by staying informed and taking a few practical steps, you can keep your family safe from these itty-bitty infection-spreaders. Here are a few ways to keep dangerous bug bites at bay…

Remove all standing water on your property. Empty any buckets or toys in the yard that collect water after a rain shower. If you have a fountain or pond, there are several ways you can keep mosquitoes from breeding. Put in a pump to keep the water moving; add some killifishes, topminnows, tadpoles, and other aquatic animals that love eating larvae; use a non-chemical insecticide, that contains BT (bacillus thuringiensis).

Use a mosquito net to protect babies. Babies are especially vulnerable to mosquito bites and that's why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using mosquito netting to keep infants safe from bites. Here at Happiest Baby we offer a mosquito net that elegantly covers your SNOO to keep mosquitoes—and other bugs and curious cats—away…we call it Shoo! Learn more about Shoo here.

Use clothing that mosquitoes can’t bite through. Wear long sleeves and pants, preferably made from woven cotton, denim, or nylon. These protect against bug bites better than thin, skin-tight fabrics. In other words, save the yoga pants for the yoga studio!

Wear light colors to confuse mosquitoes. It’s counterintuitive, but dark colors help mosquitoes see you better, so stick with light colors when outdoors during mosquito season! Also, steer clear of floral prints, which attracts mosquitoes, too.

Avoid going outside at peak mosquito hours. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. 

Use chemical bug repellant this way. DEET is the best chemical-based bug repellant for children older than 2 months. However, it's best to put it on their clothes (socks, shirt collar, shorts, etc.), instead of their skin. (Test the bug spray first, to make sure you don’t stain a favorite shirt!) 

Keep a fan on hand, especially outside. Mosquitoes are not strong flyers and they will avoid fast moving air, so setting up fans on porches and around picnic tables will help keep them away. Also, mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide in our breath, so fan-generated breezes help dissipate your breath and reduce a bug’s ability to find you. 

Grow some mosquito-repelling plants. Get in the backyard and start planting lavender, cat nip, and basil all of which mosquitoes hate and tend to avoid.

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About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.