Here’s a hint: It may be the same route your clothes and toothbrush take
In Florida, it’s hard to miss news about mosquitos. We’re constantly bombarded with stories about them swarming after a hurricane or potentially carrying a disease like Zika. And while some places (like Florida) have a big native population of these bugs, it may come as a surprise that some mosquitos may actually be foreigners. So, how’d they get here?
Mosquitos don’t actually travel that far from their homes by themselves, but there are instances where they have hitched a ride on airplanes. Sometimes it’s the plane itself, but – believe it or not – they may also stowaway in an unsuspecting traveler’s luggage.
When someone gets infected with something like Zika or Chikungunya in an area where it’s uncommon, usually the culprit is a person. People who come back from areas where mosquitos spread disease probably don’t know they’ve been infected. They then infect family, friends, and others they come into contact with.
But in some cases, the returning traveler hasn’t been infected, but he or she has brought along a mosquito that then proceeds to infect people. This isn’t terribly common, but it does happen. Aside from water, mosquitos love warm and dark places. And when one is buzzing around a hotel room, a cozy little corner of an open suitcase makes the perfect spot. This is a phenomenon known as luggage transmission.
Three cases of suspected luggage transmission
Despite not leaving the country in decades, a man in Western Australia contracted dengue. It was the first locally-acquired case in over 70 years. The conclusion was that he was bitten by a mosquito that either came from a boat from Asia or someone’s luggage.
A man traveled to Paris from his home in a country in West Africa. In a friend’s hostel room, he unpacked his bag for the first time. Upon leaving Paris, his friend came down with Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria. The friend did not travel overseas recently.
While on vacation near the Japanese city of Fuefuki, a German woman contracted dengue. This was the first reported case of the illness in all of Japan since the 1940s.
WHO recommends disinsection for planes
Aside from luggage, mosquitos can also travel from one place to another by plane, often gaining access by flying into the wheel bays. The World Health Organization (WHO) is aware of this and is suggesting that airlines take precautionary measures.
“Disease vectors, particularly as concerns mosquitoes, have long been imported into countries on aircraft and thus transmitting disease,” said Eloi Yao, a WHO Public Information Officer. “The recommendation for airlines is to disinsect planes flying into and out of the areas where the Zika virus is circulating.”
What can you do about these sneaky stowaways?
If you’ll be doing some traveling this year, the most important thing is just to be aware. You don’t have any control over mosquitos getting into a plane, but when packing to go home, you can stay alert. If you’ve noticed mosquitos while outside, chances are very good that there are some inside. Packing quickly and diligently can help prevent bringing home an unwanted souvenir.
And as for the mosquitos already lurking in our area, the best way to deal with them is with a misting system. Once set up, a mosquito misting system works automatically to keep biting insects out of your yard. For more information or to have someone come out to your home for a free consultation, get in touch with Platinum Mosquito Protection.