We hope not! But sadly,YES! They can! They can actually KILL you. If you haven’t read the news, multiple mosquitoes were trapped in Stratford, CT last week that tested positive for West Nile Virus. It is here folks. It is right in all of our backyards. You can choose to ignore it and think it cannot harm you or you can wise up, listen and keep you and your family safe.
The same day I learned of this news, I was out at a condominium complex in Fairfield, CT that is a 55+ retirement type community and it is VAST. They have approximately 5,000 lineal feet of 6″ (over-sized) rain gutters across about 12 buildings housing 150 apartments or so. I would conservatively guess there are about 250 residents in this complex, but it could be as populated as 400. I was out to visit because they were complaining about gutter problems.
Oddly enough, my firm, Connecticut Gutter LLC installed all these gutters 6 years ago, so I knew it wasn’t the gutters. I personally installed these gutters and was in charge of this job. When I arrived, I did a visual inspection from the ground and each of the 3 gutters they wanted me to assess looked healthy. They were in great shape without a ding or dent and they were all pitching properly. I was actually surprised because we’ve had a few horrendous winters with record snowfalls since the install.
As a small group of residents milled around me, one with a cane…another two silver-haired folks who had been out picking weeds and collecting sticks as I arrived, the younger “superintendent” who is salaried by the association pulled me aside and told me he was eight weeks new there in the role and had been cleaning gutters on and off since the day he started there, and the task was just too monumental for him. I could see the worry and the calamity in his eyes. He revealed that the gutters were so packed with soil and decomposed leaves that plants were literally growing in some of them, and the sheer weight of what he was pulling out was too cumbersome for him to fathom cleaning 5,000 feet. I don’t blame him! He was pushing a 1 ton stone uphill. The buildings are all draped in trees that just punish everything below all year round (a-hemm, hence the stick collection team).
The few “spokespeople” for the community quickly went into a dissertation on how two gutters were not capturing all the rain water running off an upper roof…and how the gutters were spilling over somewhere in the middle of the gutter run. I climbed a ladder and quickly spied what the superintendent was haunted by in his nightmares. Clogs! The gutters there are all clogged. No mystery to me. In fact, THE number 1 cause of any gutter problem is debris in the gutter. It’s doesn’t take much! The right-sized leaf that spins in the right direction as it floats in the gutter can cork up a gutter outlet and hold some serious water. It didn’t matter in this case. This community hadn’t cleaned these gutters since my crew had installed them. Sad. I honestly was disappointed.
The disappointment turned to horror as I drove away onto my next appointment and remembered the West Nile news story. According to the Mayo Clinic “West Nile infection is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. Most people infected with West Nile virus don’t experience any signs or symptoms, or may experience only minor ones, such as fever and mild headache. However, some people who become infected with West Nile virus develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain. Mild signs and symptoms of a West Nile virus infection generally go away on their own. But severe signs and symptoms — such as a severe headache, fever, disorientation or sudden weakness — require immediate attention. Signs and symptoms of West Nile fever usually last a few days, but signs and symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis can linger for weeks, and certain neurological effects, such as muscle weakness, may be permanent.”
As it always goes, the small, the young and the elderly are the most vulnerable victims. I just left a 55+ years of age community with thousands and thousands of feet of mosquito hatcheries. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. It could be standing water in a bucket, an upturned garbage can lid or even worse, a clogged gutter. That’s right, mosquitoes breed and hatch right in your rain gutters just outside your windows and doors.
So a few things to take away from this: 1) Clean your gutters! If you are incapable, too busy or just not interested in getting filthy and risking your life each ladder setup at a time, call a pro. Seriously. It’s not worth your livelihood. Leave it to our ninjas that scale ladders all day long. 2) Take a look around for standing water on your property. You’ll be surprised what you find. Oops, that kiddie pool you forgot to stow away in the garage. Damn, that old plastic flower pot you forgot that you left out in the flower bed.
3) Check in on your older loved ones! What are they up to? Where are they living? Who is doing #1 and #2 where they live?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, people. No one wants to deal with West Nile.
Call Connecticut Gutter & Exteriors at 203-878-2411 or rain gutter cleaning and rain gutter installation. You’ll speak to a live person 24/7. We would be honored to keep you and your family safe.