Mosquito control & Jimmy Carter

The History of Mosquito Control & Window Screens

Recently I have become very concerned about a trend by some who have decided to not use window screens for their home or apartment windows, in order to save a few dollars. You might ask why am I so concerned about this? Let me simply state that window screens can help to save lives! Window screens actually serve an important function and so let me share a few things that I have discovered in my research and a lot of it has to do with flying insects (primarily mosquitoes) and the diseases they carry. But first let me provide a brief history lesson.

The window screen or insect screens, also known as a bug screen or fly screen, was first created in the mid 1800’s. Although it’s not clear who was the first individual or company to create them, several references of Wove wire for window screens and advertisements appeared in 1823 and 1836. These insect preventing window screens were not patented in the United States for quite some time until the year 1900 when several designs were awarded patents for their specific innovations.

Mosquitoes themselves have practically been around since the beginning of life on earth, going back to   the Triassic Period 400,000,000 years ago, and are known to be disease carriers. Originally believed to have originated in Africa, malaria is one of the most ancient of deadly diseases –  first acknowledged in writing by the Chinese around 2700 BC and then by the Sumerians from 1700 BC.  The term malaria is translated from Italian meaning “bad air” and its most likely because it was recognized by the Romans who believed it was caused by the foul smelling marshes around Rome. Marshes were drained to rid of the smell and the disease although back then they didn’t know that it was the breeding ground for the mosquito that spread malaria.

In America up until 1845, Florida was considered to be inhospitable because of mosquitoes.  A man named Henry Flagler built the railroad so that the rich can begin building vacation homes in Florida.  The developers would drain the neighboring marshes to eradicate the pests.  They would use fans and bed netting to protect themselves from the nighttime insects.

Malaria was once a big problem in the United States and because of that the National Mosquito Extermination Society was formed in 1903 and later becoming the American Mosquito Control Association – AMCA in 1948.  During this period of time the AMCA lead the way with Mosquito Control by the use of insecticides, window screens, air conditioning, & preventive education have proven to essentially eliminate the disease malaria.

Just because we have had great success in the U.S., doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist elsewhere.  The American Mosquito Control Association states on their website that “Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism.  Over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.”  In addition to this number, mosquitoes transmit additional diseases to dog, horses, and birds.  These diseases include;

  • Malaria
  • West Nile Virus
  • Lymphatic Filariasis
  • Dog Heartworm
  • Chikungunya
  • Yellow Fever
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis
  • St. Louis Encephalitis
  • Western Equine Encephalitis

I first learned of this by listening to former President Jimmy Carter speaking about this topic at my daughter’s school several years ago.  He and his wife Former First Lady Rosa Lynn Carter had built a relationship with the school and we were very fortunate to have had them visit twice.  I also learned about all the good works they have done, organizations they have developed and continue to pursue including the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity.

According to the Carter Center, in 2008 there were approximately 350 to 500 million cases of malaria reported worldwide and one million people were killed each year, most of them being children.   After 6 years of providing medical treatment for the disease and the distribution of over 7.6 million insecticide treated bed nets (since 2004).  Malaria currently kills an estimated 655,000 people each year, mostly children, with about 250 million cases of the disease reported worldwide.  Approximately 80 percent of all cases and 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa, where one child in 10 dies before the age of 5 from malaria.

Another disease, lymphatic filariasis is noted as a leading cause of permanent and long term disability worldwide.   Approximately 120 million people are infected and 1.1 billion are at risk of infection.  Its cause are thin worms transmitted to humans by the bites of mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions.  The worms cause blockage in the lymphatic system causing fluid collection in tissues of the legs or genitalia, severe swelling, and fever from bacterial infections.  Long term infection is an irreversible condition called elephantiasis.

Thank goodness for the Carter’s efforts in eradicating these diseases worldwide.  Please remember that the use of insecticides and screening / screens are the winning effort pursued by the Carter Center.  Let’s not forget that because of the efforts of many people, we now have window screens and air conditioning in our homes which keep mosquitoes out.  Please do not remove your screens.  If there is a hole in one of them; go down to your local hardware store to fix it or get a do it yourself kit.  You can also call a handyman, contact a company like Best Custom Screens to re-screen it, or order one online from www.blindandscreen.com.  If the screen is bent beyond repair then lets order you a new screen.  They are more affordable then many people think.

It’s our goal to provide home owners and building owners with window screens and screen doors that will keep the interior of the buildings free of mosquitoes and unwanted flying insects.  Essentially as proven in this article, providing a much better quality of life.

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