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The Untold Story of Sir Ronald Ross

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The Untold Story of Sir Ronald Ross by Stanton E Cope

It is highly likely that many of you have heard the name Ronald Ross, and perhaps you even know a bit about him. In the history section of almost any medical entomology class or textbook, we learn that Ross, a British physician of Scottish descent, is credited with the first successful demonstration of the transmission of malaria parasites (in birds), and that he was guided in his studies by Sir Patrick Manson, generally considered the Father of Tropical Medicine.

But who was this person? What did he really want to do with his life? And how did the confused son of a dominant father end up a Nobel Prize winner in a profession he avoided and loathed as a young man? Let’s find out. This article will not regurgitate all of the scientific and professional accomplishments of Ross, but instead, is intended to provide a snapshot of the unique and fascinating foundation upon which his career was built.

Ronald Ross was born in Almora, India, on the fringe of the Himalayan Mountains, on May 13, 1857. He was the eldest of 10 children of whom 9, remarkably, survived to adulthood. His father, Brigadier General Sir Campbell Clay Grant Ross, was stationed in India where the Ross Family had connections for over a century. Ross’s mother was Matilda Charlotte Elderton, of whom he wrote “like all mothers…ours was the best in the world.” Judging from his own account in his Memoirs written in 1923, Ross appears to have experienced the typical life of a British child in India.

EARLY EFFORTS AND FAILURES

In April of 1865, when he was nearly 8 years old, Ross was sent back to England for schooling. He lived with his father ’s sister and her husband, also an Army officer. For the next 9 years, Ross attended various schools, including a boarding school, where he was grounded in the classics, became proficient in mathematics, and studied drawing and music. He also indulged his interest in natural history, star ting a book “which should contain a description of every known species of animal.” He read the Bible and studied noted authors such as Pope, Milton and Shakespeare.

By age 17 (1874), Ross’s career goal s focused on being an artist or joining the Army or Navy. However, his father had other ideas for his eldest son. In Ross’s own words, “my father had set his heart upon my joining the medical profession and, finally, the Indian Medical Service, which was then well paid and possessed many good appointments….but I had no predilection at all for medicine and like most youths, felt disposed to look down upon it.”

Ross enrolled in medical school at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London after being delivered to the front door by his father personally, but his academic efforts were diluted with writing drama and poetry, composing and playing music, and teaching himself to play the piano. In 1879, after 5 years of insincere effort, Ross failed to qualify in medicine. Then, he made a fateful decision. Threatened with losing his father’s financial support to continue his medical school efforts, Ross instead took a job as a Ship’s Surgeon, something that he had qualified for while in school.

During the next two years while crisscrossing the Atlantic, he was able to study for his medical exams while engaging with a cross-section of human it y bound for a better life in the United States. At one point, he performed an above-elbow amputation without any skilled help. Ross was so moved by this whole experience that he started writing a tale called ‘The Emigrants’ but he never finished it.

MARRIAGE AND EARLY STUDIES ON MALARIA

Ross finally joined the Indian Medical Service and served in India and Burma until 1888. By this time, pay in the Service was average or below and opportunities for promotion were scarce due to a plethora of junior officers. Also, the medical work was slow so Ross had plenty of time to devote to tennis, golf, writing dramas and studying mathematics and philosophy. This was not, however, Lieutenant Ross’s ‘cup of tea,’ and depression set in. In 1888 he returned to England on furlough. His life was about to change drastically.

Ross met and married Rosa Bessie Bloxam in 1889. After a brief honeymoon in Scotland, he really began to apply himself to his chosen profession and concentrated more and more on sanitation, as he had seen first-hand its importance in India. He received a Diploma of Public Health from a newly-established curriculum in London, the first member of the Indian Medical Service to do so. Also, he took a two-month course in the fledgling discipline called ‘bacteriology.’

Ross saw 1889 as a turning point in his life. Even though he was a romantic, he did not attribute it in any way to the presence of his new bride in his life. In fact, Ross rarely mentions her in his Memoirs. Instead, writing about the years immediately before he met Rosa, he states “ for six years, I had toiled outrageously at almost everything, sparing neither body nor mind; solitary toil which I never mentioned to my friends. Now [referring to his depression in 1888] had come the reaction…I could work no more – nor even play; my ponies browsed unsaddled, my books rested unread. Then, moreover, my faith died – the greatest of all faiths, the faith in labour; and I was overcome with the horror of the cui bono. What was the use of anything?” Cui bono is Latin for ‘ to whose benefit.’ The marriage produced 4 children; 2 boys and 2 girls. The eldest child, Campbell Ross, was killed in battle at age 19, shortly after the start of World War I.

With his new wife, new diploma and new training in tow, Ross returned to India with renewed enthusiasm, and he dove right in. He took with him several bacterial cultures and he began to study mosquitoes. One of Ross’s weaknesses, however, was his ignorance of the published literature. In 1880, a French Army physician named Alphonse Laveran first observed malaria parasites in human blood, and his discovery was widely known.

Strangely, Ross soon began to preach on two themes regarding malaria: (1) that the vast majority of supposed malarial fevers were really intestinal in origin (referred to by Ross as ‘intestinal auto-intoxication’); and (2) that Laveran’s so-called ‘parasites’ were really nothing more than blood cells misshapen by faulty techniques used to examine them! This was quite a brash statement from one who only recently became relatively proficient at microscopy.

The year 1894 arrived, and with it a year’s furlough to London for Ross, his wife, and two daughters. On April 10th, Ross met Sir Patrick Manson. It was the beginning of a relationship in science and friendship that both men needed and from which the world benefitted. Manson’s contributions to Ross’s efforts may be summarized as follows:

First, he convinced Ross of the correctness of Laveran’s observations, even showing him malaria parasites on several occasions. Second, he spoke with Ross many times about his theory that malaria parasites were somehow transmit ted by mosquitoes. Third, and most importantly, through an extensive and well-preserved series of letters between the men, which in their own right are a literary epic, he helped to sustain, guide and challenge Ross through more than three years of frustrations, discoveries and difficult conditions in India.

Manson harnessed Ross’s unique talents, curiosity and insatiable appetite for work to a significant purpose, and kept him focused on the ‘main thing.’ Also, he knew that others were close to revealing the secrets of malaria transmission, and he pushed Ross to succeed, and soon. The following quotation from one of Manson’s letters illustrates this nicely:

“I was terribly disappointed for I thought you had fallen sick, or that you had got a check, or that you had given up the quest. Above every thing, don’ t give it up. Look on it as a Holy Grail and yourself as Sir Galahad, for be assured you are on the right track. The malaria germ does not go into the mosquito for nothing, for fun or for the confusion of the pathologist. It has no notion of a practical joke. It is there for a purpose, and that purpose, depend upon it, is its own interests – germs are selfish brutes.”

THE GREAT DISCOVERY AND THE NOBEL PRIZE

After leaving Manson and returning to India, Ross began his quest with a handicap that would have easily overtaken a lesser man – ignorance of almost everything he needed to know! As previously mentioned, he had taken a short course in bacteriology. He was self-taught in microscopy and did not know the literature so he was unaware of a new staining procedure that would have likely saved him hundreds of hours. As serious as these deficiencies were, they were trivial compared to his total lack of knowledge concerning mosquitoes!

His task was simply stated – to study Plasmodium, not in humans, but in mosquitoes – but incredibly complicated, and he encountered almost every possible obstacle. His major contributions over the next three years may be summarized as follows:

First, he demonstrated that volunteers who drank water contaminated with infected mosquito adults and larvae failed to contract malaria. Second, on August 20, 1897 he observed developing human malaria parasites and their characteristic black pigment in the stomach wall of Anopheles mosquitoes, which he cal led “dapple-winged.” For years after, Ross referred to this date as ‘Mosquito Day.’ The third and most significant contribution made by Ross came about courtesy of the British Army, for about one month after Mosquito Day, he received orders to an area where there was no human malaria. Ross was incredibly disappointed and frustrated by this at first. Some months later, however, this ever-resourceful scientist was able to demonstrate the full avian malaria life cycle using sparrows and Culex mosquitoes.

Ross’s experimental career ended in 1899 when he retired from the Indian Medical Service, perhaps so that he would not have to be away from his daughters, who likely would have been sent back to England for schooling. I shall have more to say about this later.

Ross was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1901, but he did not win. He was nominated again in 1902, and it was suggested by some that he share the award with Laveran, but Laveran did not receive his Nobel Prize until 1907. Ross was one of 42 well-qualified candidates, a list that was pared to 3 finalists. They were Ross, Pavlov of ‘Pavlovian response’ fame, and Niels Finsen, who worked on phototherapy of tuberculosis. Ross won, and his monetary award amounted to 141,846 Swedish crowns, then equivalent to about 7,880 pounds sterling, which was a considerable sum in 1902. Ross received his Nobel Prize on December 10, 1902, in Stockholm from the King of Sweden, Oscar the 2nd.

ROSS vs GRASSI

I would like to briefly examine the rift (to put it mildly) that developed between Ross and the Italian investigators, particularly Giovanni Battista Grassi. The Italians began work on transmission of human malaria in the middle of July 1898. By this time, Ross’s proof was complete and partly published. The Italians were well aware of what he had done and they knew that two main tasks remained: (1) demonstrate that the parasite of human malaria had a cycle in the mosquito similar to what Ross had shown; and (2) identify the mosquito that transmits human malaria parasites.

Essentially, the Italians followed Ross’s exact line of investigation, but used Anopheles mosquitoes and human parasites. When their work was published, Ross was stung to anger as he felt he was not given adequate credit. And in my opinion, he was right. But once the quarrel escalated, the simple truths were cloaked and twisted by pas s ion and jealousy. Here is the essence of the turmoil: 1) Ross might have completed his proof with human malaria, but he did not – the Italians did. 2) Ross speculated that the “dapple-winged” mosquito probably was the culprit – the Italians proved it. 3) Ross was the first to demonstrate the entire life cycle of the malaria parasite. 4) Ross is not entitled to the whole credit for the whole proof because he did not finish it in humans.

To quote Gordon Harrison from his book ‘Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man,’ “…it makes no sense or justice to couple the names of Ross and Grassi together as co-discoverers – as is often done – without noting the very large difference between the explorer at the helm and those who rode his decks and helped make a landing.”

Space does not permit us to examine the last 30 years of Ross’s life, but here are some of the highlights. After retirement, he returned to England and became a lecturer at the new school for tropical medicine at Liverpool, where he championed tropical medicine education in Britain. He later held the Chair in Tropical Medicine. In 1911, he was knighted, and in 1912, he moved to London to take up a consulting practice.

Much of the rest of his life was concerned with public health programs against malaria. His efforts to improve public health in general were unending. He traveled extensively to undertake malaria prevention campaigns, and during World War I he was appointed consultant in malaria to the War Office. His abrasive personality of ten got in the way of progress, however. In 1926, the Ross Institute of Tropical Hygiene was opened. The aim was to promote research on tropical medicine and to stimulate control measures for malaria. Ross was its first director, and remained so until his death.

Sir Ronald Ross passed away on September 16, 1932, at the age of 75. The cause of death was listed as “ illness.” Imagine that! He outlived all 6 of his younger brothers and one of his 3 sisters. Lady Ross died from heart disease almost one year before her husband. Ronald did not attend her funeral, as he was likely distraught and definitely very feeble, having suffered a stroke. Sir Ronald and Lady Ross were inter red in Putney Vale cemetery in southwest London.

SUMMING UP

So how should the world remember Ronald Ross? How should we, in the mosquito control profession and field of public health, think of him? The answer, although complicated, is clear in my opinion. He was a dedicated, highly intelligent scientist who made great discoveries. He was a renaissance man, for sure, schooled in the arts and music. He was passionate, inquisitive, and romantic. He could be cantankerous and difficult with friends and others, without a doubt. Even his relationship with Manson cooled over the years, in par t due to Ross ’s feud with Grassi.

Rightly so, he fiercely defended his character and scientific achievements. Despite receiving many awards and honors during his life, he felt embittered that he did not receive monetary reward from his country for his malaria work and he petitioned the British government on this subject and on behalf of other scientists. He wrote three novels, numerous poems, dramas and other literary works. He was a mathematician, a musician, and he loved nature. He was an epidemiologist and sanitarian. Sir Ronald Ross found his professional niche later in life, and once comfortable there, he excelled in his work and sought affirmation of what he had accomplished. Likely, we would all do the same under similar circumstances. I would like to end with the poem that Sir Ronald drafted on Mosquito Day, and finalized a few days later, after realizing the importance of what he had just seen under the microscope:

This day relenting God Hath placed within my hand A wondrous thing; and God Be praised. At His command, Seeking His secret deeds With tears and toiling breath, I find thy cunning seeds, O million-murdering Death. I know this little thing A myriad men will save. O Death, where is thy sting, Thy victory, O Grave!

REFERENCES

Harrison, G. 1978. Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man: A History of the Hostilities Since 1880. EP Dutton, New York. 314 pp.

Ross, R. 1923. Memoirs: with a Full Account of the Great Malaria Problem and its Solution. John Murray, London. 547 pp.

All quotations are taken from this book except where noted.

Disclaimer: The views contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Navy.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I thank Dr Graham White for providing much of the background literature and FB for encouragement in completion of the manuscript.

Mosquito Feeding – Different Hosts and Different Times

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Mosquito Feeding Schedule

Knowing the mosquito feeding schedule of the pests on a property can inform your IPM plan.  There are about 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, with about 175 in North America.  What do all these mosquitoes feed on, and when do they feed?  Let’s take a look.

Mosquito Feeding - Bite Graphic

6 Mosquito Feeding Fun Facts

  1. Most species never bite people. They prefer instead to feed on large mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.  One type of mosquito feeds on earthworms and leeches!
  2. One species, the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, takes >95% of its blood meals from humans. This is part of the reason why it is such an efficient vector of several viruses including dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika and Mayaro.
  3. Mosquitoes such as the Northern house mosquito Culex pipiens, will feed on birds and humans so they are dangerous vectors of some viruses such as West Nile virus, which is normally maintained in birds.
  4. Only female mosquitoes bite, as they require blood to produce eggs. However, both male and female mosquitoes require multiple sugar meals per day for energy.  They usually get these meals from plants.
  5. The majority of species bite during the early evening and at night. However, some of the most vicious biters and most efficient disease vectors, including the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito, bite mostly during the daytime.
  6. PMPs should always ask their customers what time of the day they are being bitten. This information can drive appropriate control efforts and save time and money.

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services, learn more about him here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/stan-cope-phd/

Additional Resources

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For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Catchmaster Pestimonial – Sentry Pest Solutions

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Catchmaster Pestimonial – Sentry Pest Solutions

In this edition of our Catchmaster Pestimonial series, an Illinois PMP provides environmentally sensitive mosquito control service to a   client base devoted to “green” principles.

A More Natural Approach to Pest Control

Daniel Genty, owner of Sentry Pest Solutions, a one-man pest control operation serving the upscale communities of Homer Glen and New Lenox, Ill., a pastoral region 40 miles west of Chicago, had a specific vision for his business when he opened the doors in 2019.

“I wanted to bring a safer, more natural approach to pest control,” he said. “A lot of customers out here are affluent and they’re concerned about the environment. They don’t mind spending a few extra dollars for an IPM program or all-natural products that will protect the environment.”

The Village of Homer Glen is so committed to preserving its unique rural character and pursuing a “green vision” that its official website features the tagline, “Community and Nature … in Harmony.” The 23-square-mile village, which 25,000 people proudly call home, features ample green space, along with numerous wetlands and floodplains, attractive habitats for mosquito breeding, which can be a major problem for residents throughout the spring and summer.

Solutions for Accounts that Require Special Attention

Catchmaster Pestimonial - Dan Genty

“Last year I had a number of problem properties requiring special attention since they backed up to wetlands or forested areas with heavy mosquito pressure,” Genty observed. “These were absolute nightmare jobs,” he added, with residents and pets being eaten alive by mosquitoes when they ventured outside in the early evening.

Despite the detrimental impact on the quality of life of community members, residents still demanded an environmentally sensitive approach to their mosquito problems. “These were dream customers you don’t want to lose, so I was honest with them,” Genty said. “I told them I have this new product (Final FeedTM from Catchmaster®) and I don’t know how well it will work, but if you’re willing to give it a try I’ll do the best I can to solve your problem.”

Genty, 39, learned about Final Feed Mosquito Bait from his Catchmaster sales representative, but he had never tried the product until last summer. Final Feed features a proprietary, dual-action formula that includes natural fruit juices that attract hungry mosquitoes, combined with a lethal dose of microencapsulated garlic (0.4%).

Genty was intrigued by the product because it is classified as a 25b minimum-risk pesticide by the EPA, an important attribute for his environmentally conscious customer base. Backed by peer-reviewed published science, Final Feed is applied to non-flowering plants and mosquito resting sites as a residual spray, using their feeding behavior against them.

Captain Stan (aka the Mosquito Man) & Final Feed

“Both male and female mosquitoes require multiple sugar meals each day for energy and survival,” observes Dr. Stan Cope, vice president of technical products and services for AP&G, manufacturer of the Catchmaster line of products. “They acquire these sugar meals from plants.”

The unique, non-toxic formulation suppresses blood feeding and collapses mosquito populations by more than 90% in two to three weeks. “The exact mode of action is unknown, but after ingestion, the majority of the mosquitoes die within one or two days,” Cope said. “Further, after ingesting the garlic, female mosquitoes lose their appetite for blood,” resulting in a dramatic decline in biting activity, critical to the success of any mosquito management program.

Catchmaster Pestimonial - Final Feed

Mosquito Problems

In Genty’s first “problem account,” a single-family home in close proximity to a landscape business with two large ponds, mosquito pressure was high, making it difficult for the homeowners to venture outside after dusk. Genty treated the property with Final Feed, spraying non-flowering plants with the bait. Upon calling the homeowner three days later, “She said her family was in the backyard the day after the treatment and they didn’t get bitten once,” according to Genty, and the treatment lasted 60 days.

A second property, which bordered a nearby tree line, proved equally as problematic. “There were some woods and a pretty decent-sized creek that went through the property,” Genty recalls, “but Final Feed performed the same. The customer was thrilled with the results.”

Genty acknowledges the product has a slight garlic odor, “but it’s not a bad smell and I haven’t received any complaints from customers.” It comes packaged in four pouches per case and has a shelf life of two years. No special storage requirements are necessary.

“I’ve been very pleased with the product and am looking forward to using it again this coming mosquito season,” Genty said.

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services.  He is proud to be a part of this Catchmaster Pestimonial.  Learn more about him here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/stan-cope-phd/

From Technician to Owner

Daniel Genty, owner of Sentry Pest Solutions, didn’t intend to pursue a career in the pest control industry. He started working in the industrial engineering field, before an unexpected layoff prompted him to consider other career options.

“A gentleman who provided pest control services to my mom’s work said his company was hiring technicians,” Genty recalls. “I applied for a job, was hired, and absolutely fell in love with the industry. What I liked about the industry is my customers were happy to see the bug guy because I was actually solving peoples’ problems.”

After being called back to his engineering job, Genty began to miss his daily interactions with customers in the field, finding himself increasingly bored sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day. “I realized I missed it,” he said, so Genty did the necessary research and secured the required certifications to launch Sentry Pest Solutions in 2019.

“I’ve been working on my own a year now and absolutely love it!”

Catchmaster Pestimonial – Additional Resources

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Sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Check out additional Catchmaster Pestimonials here: https://catchmasterpro.com/?s=pestimonial

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Top 5 Mosquito Prevention Tips (aka the 5 Ds)

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Mosquito Prevention Tips

Mosquitoes bugging you?  Take back your yard by following the ‘5 Ds’.

Top 5 Mosquito Prevention Tips - Fun Facts

Top 5 Mosquito Prevention Tips

  1. DUMP – Mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle.  Once a week, carefully inspect your property and dump out any water in containers such as tires, plant drainers, wheelbarrows, buckets, etc.  Remember that mosquitoes can develop in a bottle cap!  Remove or cover containers if possible.
  2. DRAIN – Things such as kiddy pools, clogged gutters and bird baths can produce hungry bloodsuckers in a week.  Drain them regularly.
  3. DRESS – When practical, wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.  Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks.  Some kinds of mosquitoes just LOVE biting around the ankles!  Some stores sell clothing that is factory-impregnated with insect repellent.
  4. DEET – When needed, use insect repellent that has an EPA-registered active ingredient.  Read more here:  https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html
  5. DUSK/DAWN – Peak mosquito biting activity occurs around dusk and dawn.  Avoid being outside at these times if possible.  If you can’t, dress appropriately and use repellent.  Note, however, that some kinds of mosquitoes, especially those that transmit Zika, chikungunya and dengue prefer to bit during the DAYTIME hours.

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services, learn more about him here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/stan-cope-phd/

Mosquito Prevention – Additional Resources

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

10 Mosquito Prevention Tips for Your Yard

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Spring is in the air and the mosquitoes are sure to follow – here are 10 mosquito prevention tips to get your yard ready for mosquito season.

In short, containing the little biters comes down to eliminating some of the conditions that make your property so attractive in the first place.

Mosquito Prevention Tips - Fun Facts

10 Mosquito Prevention Tips for Your Yard

  1. Search thoroughly for and remove or cover anything that can hold water.
  2. Remove, cover or drill holes in used tires.  Drill so that water completely drains.  Do the same if you have a tire swing.
  3. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers. Ensure that lids for garbage cans are in good repair.
  4. Beware of items such as buckets, wheelbarrows and recycling containers that have a ‘lip’ when flipped over. The lip will collect water and organic matter, enough to welcome a new generation of mosquitoes in just 5-7 days.
  5. Clean clogged gutters.
  6. Check that all windows, screens and doors are tight-fitting and in good repair.
  7. Scrub birdbaths thoroughly with a brush. This will remove mosquito eggs.
  8. Cover in-ground drains with hardware cloth to prevent mosquito breeding.
  9. Fill in low-lying areas where water regularly collects and remains.
  10. Inspect and remove water from tarps or plastic used to cover items.

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is the Vice President of Technical Services for the Catchmaster brand, learn more here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/stan-cope-phd/

Mosquito Prevention – Additional Resources

Get more content like this daily when you follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catchmasterPRO/

Sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

7 Kissing Bug Fun Facts

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Kissing Bugs: Romantic or a Big Misnomer?

Kissing bug sounds like a nice nickname for an insect but you may be feeling differently about these 7 fun facts from our Captain Stan.

It’s Valentines Day, and supposedly, love is in the air!  And guess what?  So are some nasty insects called ‘kissing’ bugs.  These creatures belong to the insect family Triatomidae, and they all feed exclusively on blood, including that of humans.

7 Kissing Bug Fun Facts

  1. They are found in Central and South America, as well as Mexico and the Southern   United States.  There are 11 different species in the U.S.
  2. They are responsible for transmitting a nasty disease known as Chagas disease, which is on the increase in the United States.
  3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 8 million people have the infection in the Americas and Mexico, with up to 300,000 infections in the United States.
  4. Some of the larger kissing bugs can reach 2.5 inches in length and take as long as 20 minutes or so to ‘fill up’ on blood!
  5. Some people are highly allergic to the bite of these bugs, which can result in anaphylactic shock.
  6. Kissing bugs have the nasty habit of defecating on the host while they are feeding, and this is how the parasites that cause Chagas disease are transmitted.
  7. And finally, the name? Well, they are not called ‘kissing bugs’ because of amorous tendencies.  In fact, they generally bite people at night, when they are sleeping, and they prefer to bite on the face, around the lips.  There you have it!

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Kissing Bug Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services, learn more about him here: https://catchmasterpro.com/blog/stan-cope-phd/

Kissing Bugs – Additional Resources

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Learn more about kissing bugs from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/other-pests/kissing-bugs/

 

Coronavirus and Mosquitoes

By | Mosquitoes | One Comment

Coronavirus and Mosquitoes – Do They Spread It?

The Novel Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, was first identified in Wuhan, China and has since spread rapidly, killing hundreds and sickening thousands.  This virus is newly identified and is not the same as the coronaviruses that circulate among humans and cause mild disease, such as the common cold.  Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause illness in humans while others circulate among animals such as cattle, cats, camels and bats.  SARS, a coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from civet cats while another coronavirus, MERS, infected people from camels.

Although 2019-nCoV likely came from an animal, it now appears to be spreading person-to-person.  There is no evidence whatsoever that any coronavirus is spread by mosquito bite.  But what, exactly, is ‘person-to-person’ transmission?  This occurs mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and common colds are spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or may even be inhaled into the lungs.  Usually this happens within about 6 feet.  Also, note that some viruses are highly contagious (such as measles) while others are less so.  We still have much to learn about just how contagious 2019-nCoV is as well as many other aspects of its epidemiology.

Coronavirus and Mosquitoes - Fun Facts

Now, if a mosquito bites a person who has Zika virus in the bloodstream, that mosquito may then be able to transmit the virus to another person in about 10 days or so.  However, this is NOT considered ‘person-to-person’ transmission.  In this case, the virus is ‘vector borne’, meaning transmitted by a biting arthropod such as a mosquito or tick.

5 Facts from the CDC

  1. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses.
  2. Coronaviruses are poor survivors on exposed surfaces. Therefore, there is likely a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.
  3. There is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection for 2019-nCoV.
  4. There is currently no vaccine for 2019-nCoV and no specific antiviral treatment.
  5. One of the most effective preventive measures is to wash your hands often, with soap, for at least 20 seconds especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

1Not only is Captain Stan The Mosquito Man, he also holds a PhD in Public Health, with emphasis in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases.  This makes him uniquely qualified to discuss Coronavirus and mosquitoes.  Learn more about Stan here: https://catchmaster.com/introducing-captain-stan-the-mosquito-man/

2This information was adapted primarily from www.cdc.gov, the official website of the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.  The 2019-nCoV situation is changing daily so please consult this website for update.

Additional Resources

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For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Stan Cope, PhD

By | Mosquitoes | No Comments

You may know our Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mostquito Man) from our online content.  Each month he publishes a new article covering everything mosquito.  But how did Stan become such a mosquito management expert?  Read on for some background on our Vice President of Technical Services.

Stan Cope – Educational Background

Stan was born and raised in Huntington, Indiana.   He was graduated in 1976 from Swarthmore (PA) College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology.  In 1980, he completed a Masters in Entomology at the University of Delaware, with emphasis on medical entomology.  In 1988, Stan was awarded a PhD in Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he focused on medical entomology, tropical medicine and infectious diseases.

Military Career

In 1988, Stan was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, where he served as a Medical Entomologist for the next 23+ years, retiring with the rank of Captain (same as a full-bird Colonel).  He held a wide variety of assignments, conducting operational and research entomology in 18 countries.  The pinnacle of his career in the Navy was serving as Director, Armed Forces Pest Management Board and Director, Defense Pest Management in Washington, DC, where he had responsibility for all aspects of pest management for the United States Department of Defense.

Stan Cope - Fun Facts

He also directed a $5 million/year federal research program targeted at product development for arthropod control.  In this capacity, Stan fostered numerous global industry agreements, resulting in licensing, production and availability of several new tools including traps, attractants, baits and spray equipment.

Stan was awarded 24 ribbons and medals, including the Defense Superior Service Medal.  He retired from the Navy on September 1, 2012 and joined Terminix International two weeks later as Manager and then Director, Entomology and Regulatory Services.  Stan left Terminix in December of 2016 and joined Atlantic Paste and Glue (Catchmaster) in May of 2017.

Publications & Professional Stewardship

Dr. Cope has authored or co-authored over 80 scientific and technical publications.  A highly sought-after speaker, he has delivered over 150 presentations at scientific, technical and certification meetings and has given numerous lectures to community groups, school children and civic organizations.  He is a recognized expert on the history of medical entomology and yellow fever.

From 2008-2012, Stan served as a Regional Director for the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and was instrumental in launching AMCA’s Young Professionals group, designed to recruit a younger and more diverse membership interested in entomology, mosquito control and pest management.  He was elected Vice President of AMCA in 2014 and served as President in 2015-16, during the Zika crisis.  He also worked closely with Bayer to establish the Kelly Labell Travel Award, which funds a mosquito researcher, usually a student, to attend the AMCA annual meeting.  Kelly’s young life was tragically cut short by Eastern equine encephalomyelitis.

Stan Cope - Deadliest

Catchmaster & Leadership

Since joining the pest control industry, Stan has become the ‘go to’ person for all things mosquitoes.  Whether conducting site visits, providing field training or giving one of his highly popular lectures, he is always full of enthusiasm and passion for his subject.  He has been a crusader to encourage private industry to increase its commitment to Integrated Mosquito Management.  Additionally, Stan has developed a three-hour recertification class on mosquitoes, which he customizes depending on what audience and geographic region is targeted.  And check out his highly successful blog, ‘Captain Stan The Mosquito Man’ on the Catchmaster PRO website.

Stan has been very active in the National Pest Management Association.  Besides giving several presentations at NPMA events, he has served on the Technical Committee as a member and correspondent, served on the Commercial Committee, and served on the Pest Management Foundation’s research advisory group.    Also, he is a ‘Founding Father’, along with Marty Overline of Aardvark Pest Control, of NPMA’s PestVets Committee.

Finally, Stan is a regular contributor to Pest Control Technology (PCT) magazine and has written some pieces for Pest Management Professional (PMP).

Personal

In his ‘spare time’, Stan enjoys gardening, Civil War history, book collecting, sports, reading and family time.  Oh, and he also pitched three no-hitters in his baseball career; one in Little League, one in high school and one in college.

Stan Cope – Additional Resources

Get more great content like this in your inbox – sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

For help with your upcoming mosquito season, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/collection/mosquito-management-tools/

Learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Discover more efforts in mosquito management with the American Mosquito Control Association here: www.mosquito.org

Mosquito Management 2019 Review

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Oh! What a Year it has been in Mosquito Management!  What did we Learn?

2019 was a very unusual year for mosquito management and mosquito-transmitted in the United States.  The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported the information below as of the first week of December.

2019 Disease prevalence

For the past two years, there have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika virus reported in the US.  The yearly average since 1999 has been about 2,500 cases.  Conversely, we had a frightening year with Eastern equine encephalitis.  Normally, the US averages about 7 cases per year but in 2019, there were 37 cases and 15 deaths.  Cases occurred in 9 states, with Massachusetts leading the way with 12.

Also, there were 14 locally acquired cases of dengue; 12 of these in Florida, 1 in North Carolina, and 1 questionable case in the District of Columbia.  The local cases in Florida are not surprising, as a whopping 32% (321) of the travel-related cases occurred there!

Mosquito Management - Fun Facts

So, what can we learn from this – 3 lessons learned from mosquito Season 2019

  1. The threat from mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States is very real.
  2. The threat varies each year geographically as well as by disease and by type of mosquito.
  3. Diseases that have not occurred in an area for several years can suddenly reappear, bringing significant morbidity and mortality.

Remain vigilant, especially if you are traveling to warmer climates (either within or outside the United States) over the holiday season and beyond.

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services.  Learn more about Stan here:  https://catchmaster.com/introducing-captain-stan-the-mosquito-man/

Mosquito Management – Additional Resources

Get more great content like this in your inbox – sign up for our mailing list here: https://catchmasterpro.com/join-email/

For help with mosquito season 2020 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/product/final-feed-mosquito-bait/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

By | Insects, Mosquitoes, Tips & Inspirations | No Comments

Eastern Equine Encephalitis – History

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), also known as sleeping sickness, was first recognized in 1831 when 75 horses died in Massachusetts.  The EEE virus was first isolated from horse brain in 1933.  Human cases were recognized in 1938 when 30 children died in the Northeast US.

Geography

Most cases occur in the Eastern US or Gulf Coast states as well as the upper Midwest.  Many cases are associated with hardwood swamps.  The virus is maintained in a mosquito-bird-mosquito cycle.  In the summer and early fall it is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes .  These mosquitoes are referred to as ‘bridge vectors’, as they ‘bridge’ the virus from birds to humans.  The virus cannot be transmitted human to human.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis - Mosquito Fun Facts

Eastern Equine Encephalitis – Impact on Public Health

About 30% of those who get Eastern Equine Encephalitis die, and those who survive have significant neurological impairment.  Those over the age of 50 and under 15 are at increased risk of severe disease, and infection provides life-long immunity.  There is no vaccine for humans.

Clinical illness presents in two forms:

  • A systemic illness, with symptoms much like influenza, that lasts 1-2 weeks with complete recovery
  • An encephalitic (inflammation of the brain) illness with restlessness, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and coma.

2019 Update

The average number of cases per year is about 7.  However, in 2019 there have already been at least 27 cases in 6 states with 11 deaths (as of October 3rd).  Cases so far by state with deaths in parentheses include Massachusetts – 11 (4), Michigan – 8 (3), Connecticut – 4 (3), Rhode Island – 1 (1), New Jersey – 1, North Carolina – 1.

Captain Stan Cope (aka the Mosquito Man) is our Vice President of Technical Services.  Learn more about Stan here:  https://catchmaster.com/introducing-captain-stan-the-mosquito-man/

Additional Resources

For help with mosquito season 2019 & beyond, discover Catchmaster® mosquito management tools:  https://catchmasterpro.com/product/final-feed-mosquito-bait/

Finally, learn more about mosquitoes from the NPMA here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/mosquitoes/