The Latest

  • September 24, 2018

    Record number of mosquitoes for September in Madison, WI


    By Keely Arthur

    WISC-TV- News 3- Madison

    MADISON, Wis. - Mosquitoes are out in record breaking numbers in our area, according to public health officials. It’s a fact you’ve likely felt firsthand if you’ve stepped outside. 

    “This is a really unique year; we have data from 2018 through 2012. Every year except for this one, things really get low,” said John Hausbeck, a supervisor with Public Health Madison and Dane County . 

    Hausbeck says traps put out by the University of Wisconsin Entomology Department are collecting more than 25 times more mosquitoes than the previous record set in 2016.

    “The week of September the seventh we were finding, on average, 5,000 mosquitos per trap night,” Hausbeck said. “The same time in 2016, roughly 200 were collected. 

    Public Health stopped spraying for mosquitoes. Hausbeck said staff has moved on to other seasonal positions. Also, these type of mosquitoes do not carry disease, which is the main reason why officials spray. 

    “We are seeing as properly named 'floodwater mosquitoes.' These are mosquitos that drive us nuts all season long," Hausbeck said. "Generally in this area they are not carrying disease.” 

    While the floodwater mosquitoes don’t pose a threat to public health, if  you feel like these bugs are affecting your mental health, you can call in professionals.

    Full article here:


  • September 17, 2018

    I-Tick Study Conducted with University of Illinois

    Dr. Lee Ann Lyons, I-TICK Coordinator with the University of Illinois,  recently completed an interview with ciLiving on WCIA Channel 3 in Champaign. She talked about the types of ticks and tick-borne disease present in Illinois, and she showed an example of a tick drag and a I-TICK tick survey kit.

    Watch the interview online here.


  • September 10, 2018

    Madison News Highlights Abnormally Numbers of High Flood Water Mosquitoes After Recent Floods

    Experts say mosquito population abnormally high

    By Keely Arthur

    September 8, 2018

    MADISON, Wis. - Experts say the mosquito population is abnormally large for this time of year, and the heavy rain, which has led to more standing water, is to blame.

    University of Wisconsin entomology experts said there are 10 to 50 times more mosquitoes than normally found in September. Certain breeds, known as floodwater mosquitoes have flourished, but they are more of a nuisance than a danger.

    “You can expect to be annoyed by them. They are a nuisance but they are not known to carry any disease at all so there is no heightened risk of attracting a mosquito-born disease,” explained Tom Richards, a researcher at UW.

    Richards said you won’t have to worry about the mosquitoes much longer as the temperature cools down.

    "It is getting cooler, so the upshot is that these numbers will go down and will taper off to nothing pretty soon."

    Watch the interview here.


  • September 7, 2018

    Washington Post reports on Minnesota Department of Health tick research

    They’re out in the woods picking up ticks — on purpose


    By Sheila Mulrooney Eldred

    CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. — It’s a ­picture-perfect summer day in the woods of central Minnesota: 71 degrees, humidity around 73 percent, sunshine dappling the trees and glinting off glimpses of the Mississippi River.

    But as five scientists pull on white painter suits and start duct-taping the cuffs to their hiking boots, no one is certain if the conditions will be ideal enough to complete their task for the day: catching about 300 ticks, both adults and 150 nymphs.

    These Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) researchers are teaming up with scientists from the Mayo Clinic for this “tick drag,” gathering samples to bring back to their labs to add to surveillance records and test for disease pathogens, both of which help determine the risk that black-legged ticks pose to people.

    Ticks prefer at least 85 percent humidity, and they tend to come out to feed in slightly hotter conditions. And weather aside, tick collection is never predictable, says Jenna Bjork, an epidemiologist with the MDH vector-borne diseases unit.

    Fingers figuratively crossed, the scientists gather the supplies they’ll need for the day: reading glasses (to see the sesame-seed-size ticks and poppy-seed-size nymphs), fine-tip tweezers (to grip their heads), vials (to preserve them) and the “drags” themselves — large pieces of white canvas attached to dowels with rope. Then they head into the woods.

    It’s prime time for illnesses carried by ticks. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which found that the annual incidence of vector-borne diseases tripled from 2004 to 2016, generated a new level of attention for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

    The report also criticized ­vector-control organizations — state health departments and mosquito-control districts — noting that about 80 percent “lack critical prevention and control capacities” for mosquitoes. The percentage is probably higher for ticks, because few state agencies or vector-control organizations do any surveillance or control work related to ticks, according to Rebecca Eisen, a research biologist in the division of vector-borne diseases at the CDC.

    Read the full article here.


  • September 4, 2018

    ​Dr. Joel Coats of ISU Publishes Article About Plant-Based Mosquito Repellents

    Dr. Joel Coats

    Iowa State University


    As humanity experiences relentless pressures from disease-carrying mosquitoes in many parts of the world, there is an urgent need for new tools to use against those beasts – because they keep getting scarier.

    Even though DEET remains the most commonly used, and most powerful, mosquito repellent ever developed, scientists are actively pursuing effective products based entirely on plant oils, some tracing their roots to traditional remedies. The advantages of these plant-derived repellents are their pleasant fragrance, and nice feeling on the skin and vapor action, but only if we can coax these natural compounds to last as long as today’s commercial products. While DEET is an effective contact repellent, many people dislike the oily feel and smell on their skin, and sometimes skin irritations occur. One consequence is that military personnel are less inclined to comply with using DEET on the skin because it is unpleasant to use. This raises their risk of them contracting mosquito-borne diseases. Consumers are always interested in alternatives to DEET and other synthetic repellents, so there are numerous natural repellents on the market.

    In my lab at Iowa State University, my team and I have been conducting research on natural products as possible insect repellents for the past 20 years. We began by following up folklore regarding catnip oil, from the catmint plant, and Osage orange (hedge apple) as repellents for insects and spiders. First we proved that they could repel these insects, and later we identified the individual chemicals, called terpenes, in their oils that are responsible for their repellent action. These discoveries earned us three patents on those natural terpenes as repellents, and the rights were licensed to a California company.

    The strongest natural repellents were fast-acting but did not last very long. A few from the Osage orange had longer-lasting activity, but they were expensive to isolate from the fruit or synthesize in the lab. Many other plant essential oils, the “essence” of the plant, have been explored as insect repellents by our and many other laboratories, but virtually all of those natural repellents were too short-lived, providing protection from insects for little more than one or two hours. Some of the best oils are lemongrass, cinnamon, and oil of citronella. Our group took up the challenge to design highly effective, long-lasting repellents.

    Since those earlier studies, my research group has focused on making derivatives of the best natural repellents in a quest to boost the repellent potency of the terpene that lasts up to eight hours in the laboratory. Three of my Ph.D. students – James Klimavicz, Caleb Corona and Edmund Norris – have contributed greatly to this project by designing, synthesizing, purifying, characterizing and testing more than 300 closely related chemicals derived from the best of the natural repellents like citronellol, menthol and thymol.

    Read the full article here.


  • August 29, 2018

    ProMED update highlights finding of Aedes albopictus in Michigan

    Date: Wed 29 Aug 2018

    Source: WNEM [edited]


    The invasive Asian tiger mosquito [_Aedes albopictus], which is capable of spreading the Zika virus, has been found in Michigan, but officials emphasized that there is no evidence of Zika or other exotic virus-infected mosquitoes in Michigan or the United States this year [2018].   Officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Wayne County Health Department announced that the mosquito was identified on 16 Aug [2018] in southern Romulus.

    "Finding Asian tiger mosquitoes in Michigan is no reason for great concern. Many of our neighboring states have found them previously and have not seen Zika transmission from this species," said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. "However, it is always a good idea to take precautions against mosquito bites, since other mosquito species can carry diseases like West Nile virus." 

    The presence of the mosquito was discovered in Michigan for the 1st time in 2017. Recently, the species has been found in Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Windsor, Ontario. 

    This year [2018], 69 birds have tested positive for WNV from 21 of Michigan's 83 counties.


    --Communicated by:



    [_Aedes albopictus_ is gradually moving northward. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's map of geographic areas suitable for this mosquito includes Michigan <>. This mosquito can enter diapause and survive winter conditions. It may be that this mosquito is becoming established in the Upper Midwestern states.

    The main risk that this mosquito presents is less for transmission of Zika virus than for transmission of La Crosse and Jamestown Canyon viruses, to which it is susceptible. It has been shown in the laboratory that this mosquito species is susceptible to infection by both of these orthobunyaviruses. Dual infections by both of these viruses can result in reassortment of the 3 RNA strands, with all 6 reassortants produced. These 2 viruses can co-circulate in the same woodlands in places like the Upper Midwest of the USA. Should _A.albopictus_ become established in ecosystems where these 2 viruses are endemic, the emergence of new, reassorted viruses is possible. - Mod.TY 

    HealthMap/ProMED map available at:

    Michigan, United States: <>] 

    [See Also: 2017----

    Invasive mosquito - Canada: (ON)

    Invasive mosquito - USA (07): (OH)

    Invasive mosquito - USA (04): (WI)

    Invasive mosquito - USA (02): (NE)

    Invasive mosquito - USA: (NV,CT)



    Invasive mosquito - USA (06): (IN)

    Invasive mosquito - USA (05): (OH)]


  • August 13, 2018

    Chicago News Reports on High Levels of West Nile virus

    Mark Clifton of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District was interviewed recently by ABC 7 in Chicago regarding the high levels of West Nile virus being found in its traps. Justin Harbison of Loyola University and Dr. Rachel Rubin of the Cook County Department of Health are also featured in news clip (along with mosquitoes caught in Milwaukee in conjunction with Haley Johnson's larvicide effectiveness study), which can be found here. The accompanying news article is copied below.

    Elevated levels of West Nile Virus found in local mosquitoes

    By Sarah Schulte

    Friday, August 10, 2018

    The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District has reported high levels of West Nile Virus in its mosquito traps.

    These elevated levels means human infection is likely, District officials said.

    "It's quite high, it's second to 2012 outbreak where dozens of people got sick by West Nile," said North Shore Mosquito Abatement District Executive Director Mark Clifton.

    Approximately 300 cases of West Nile Virus were reported in Illinois in 2012. 174 of those cases were in Cook County.

    While there have not been any confirmed cases of West Nile in Cook County this year, the Cook County Department of Public Health is ready in case they appear.

    "Certainly we're watching the trends very carefully as we work closely with abatement districts," said Dr. Rachel Rubin of the Department of Health.

    Both abatement districts and doctors said prevention is key. Steps like using an EPA-approved bug spray, wearing loose clothing, draining water on your property and staying inside at dawn and dusk can help you avoid the disease.

    "The mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile will reproduce in small containers, children's toys, garden pots anything that can hold water," Clifton said.

    People who are bitten by infected mosquitos may develop symptoms within three to 21 days, but most people exposed to the virus don't get sick, Rubin said.

    Mild cases of West Nile may cause fever and headache, while severe cases can affect the brain and spinal cord and lead to death.

    "Those are the symptoms you think about, things like headache, malaise, fatigue, confusion, body aches," Rubin said.


  • August 2, 2018

    Tickborne Diseases Likely to Increase According to NIH Officials

    July 25, 2018

    The incidence of tickborne infections in the United States has risen significantly within the past decade. It is imperative, therefore, that public health officials and scientists build a robust understanding of pathogenesis, design improved diagnostics, and develop preventive vaccines, according to a new commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine from leading scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

    Bacteria cause most tickborne diseases in the United States, with Lyme disease representing the majority (82 percent) of reported cases. The spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi is the primary cause of Lyme disease in North America; it is carried by hard-bodied ticks that then feed on smaller mammals, such as white-footed mice, and larger animals, such as white-tailed deer. Although there are likely many factors contributing to increased Lyme disease incidence in the U.S., greater tick densities and their expanding geographical range have played a key role, the authors write. For example, the Ixodes scapularis tick, which is the primary source of Lyme disease in the northeastern U.S., had been detected in nearly 50 percent more counties by 2015 than was previously reported in 1996. Although most cases of Lyme disease are successfully treated with antibiotics, 10 to 20 percent of patients report lingering symptoms after effective antimicrobial therapy. Scientists need to better understand this lingering morbidity, note the authors.

    Tickborne virus infections are also increasing and could cause serious illness and death. For example, Powassan virus (POWV), recognized in 1958, causes a febrile illness that can be followed by progressive and severe neurologic conditions, resulting in death in 10 to 15 percent of cases and long-term symptoms in as many as 70 percent of survivors. Only 20 U.S. cases of POWV infection were reported before 2006; 99 cases were reported between 2006 and 2016.  

    The public health burden of tickborne disease is considerably underreported, according to the authors. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease annually in the U.S. but estimates that the true incidence is 10 times that number. According to the authors, this is due in part to the limitations of current tickborne disease surveillance, as well as current diagnostics, which may be imprecise in some cases and are unable to recognize new tickborne pathogens as they emerge. These limitations have led researchers to explore new, innovative diagnostics with different platforms that may provide clinical benefit in the future.

    It is also critical that scientists develop vaccines to prevent disease, the authors write. A vaccine to protect against Lyme disease was previously developed, but was pulled from the market and is no longer available. Future protective measures could include vaccines specifically designed to create an immune response to a pathogen, or to target pathogens inside the ticks that carry them.

    By focusing research on the epidemiology of tickborne diseases, improving diagnostics, finding new treatments and developing preventive vaccines, public health officials and researchers may be able to stem the growing threat these diseases pose. In the meantime, the authors suggest, healthcare providers should advise their patients to use basic prevention techniques: wear insect repellant, wear long pants when walking in the woods or working outdoors, and check for ticks.


    CI Paules, HD Marston, ME Bloom and AS Fauci. Tickborne Diseases — Confronting a Growing Threat. New England Journal of MedicineDOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1807870(link is external) (2018).

    See the press release online here.


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