The recent expansion of Aedes albopictus, a day-biting mosquito, to densely inhabited areas in the northeastern Atlantic states of the USA has dramatically increased the problem that mosquitoes create for urban and suburban residents. We quantified the impact of mosquitoes on residents' quality of life within the context of a comprehensive area-wide integrated pest management program to control Ae. albopictus in two counties (Mercer and Monmouth) in New Jersey. We interviewed residents of 121 randomly selected households in both counties between October and November 2010. We asked residents about their experience with mosquitoes in their neighborhood and the importance of the ability to relax outdoors without mosquitoes compared to other neighborhood characteristics (1 = not important, 5 = extremely important). We rated residents' utility based on paired comparisons to known states from the EuroQol health description system. The majority (54.6%) of respondents considered mosquitoes to be a problem. Respondents reported an average of 7.1 mosquito bites in a typical week during that summer. Mosquitoes prevented 59.5% of residents from enjoying their outdoor activities at least to some extent. Residents rated the mosquito acceptability (mean ± standard deviation) during that summer on a scale of 0 (mosquito invasion) to 100 (no mosquitoes) at 56.7±28.7, and their overall utility at 0.87±0.03. This is comparable to living with up to two risk factors for diabetes (i.e., abdominal obesity, body mass index of 28 or more, reported cholesterol problems, diagnosis of hypertension, or history of cardiovascular disease) or women experiencing menstrual disorders. Respondents rated the importance of enjoying outdoor activities without mosquitoes (4.69±0.80) comparable to that of neighborhood safety (4.74±0.80) and higher than that of a clean neighborhood (4.59±0.94). In conclusion, New Jersey residents reported that mosquitoes decreased their utility by 0.13, comparable to the loss from worrisome health risk factors, underscoring the importance of controlling this problem.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)