Have you heard the buzzing sound or felt the itchy bites? Mosquitoes are around. We used to think the itchy bite marks were just a pest. Now, we hear more and more about diseases the mosquitoes are carrying.
Mosquitoes can carry serious diseases. Some experts consider the mosquito the world’s most deadly animal. Most mosquito-related illnesses occur in Africa. In the United States the West Nile Virus is the most serious disease carried by the mosquitoes, but we may soon see Zika Virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya. Thus, it’s important to take some precautions.
Most people have no symptoms with West Nile virus infections. However, one in five people develop mild symptoms such as fever, headache, or nausea. About one in 150 people get very ill. Your dog also needs protection with monthly heart worm medication to prevent mosquito-borne illness.
How do you keep your family and yourself safe? Following the three “Ds” are the best recommendation.
Drain: With about 200 different species of mosquitoes in the U.S., the best way is to eliminate the breeding ground for mosquitoes.
· Remove any stagnant water you have around your property such as pots, tools, trash cans, or other places where water has collected. Unclog roof gutters.
· Empty water containers like flower pots, bird baths, wading pools or children’s toys, at least once a week.
Dress: If you need to be outside sometime between dusk to dawn when mosquitoes may be active watch what you wear. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing and may bite through tight-fitting clothing.
· Wear long sleeves and long pants in light colors which are loose-fitting.
Defend: Use a mosquito repellent when you feel it is needed. Label directions should be followed on repellents containing the three active ingredients below approved by the EPA to pose minimal risk for human safety. These should not be used on children under two months. Check with your health care provider before using on children. Put sunscreen on first about 20 minutes before applying repellent. The three approved active ingredients in repellents are:
· DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
· Picaridin (KBR 3023)
· Oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-methane 3,8-diol, or PMD)
Since we do not have vaccines for most mosquito related illnesses, following the three “Ds” will help reduce your risk of getting a mosquito-borne illness.
Pat Brinkman is the Ohio State University Extension Educator for Family & Consumer Sciences.