Fight the Bite

Protecting yourself from mosquitoes

The Record-Herald

It’s that time of year where everyone needs to be aware of the nasty pest – mosquitoes. The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent being bitten by a mosquito.

They are a familiar pest in backyards, parks and camping grounds. Most are merely a nuisance and are not a major vectors of diseases. In fact, only a few of the 59 species of mosquitoes in Ohio can transmit disease. However those diseases can be serious, such as encephalitis and malaria in humans, and heartworms in dogs. So it is always best to take preventive measures to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites.

There are several things you can do to protect yourself from these little pests so here are a few hints. First of all you need to know that mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and that includes puddles, stagnant ditches and containers. So in your yard make sure you turn over buckets, wheelbarrows when not in use, empty the tire swings, clean out bird baths once a week, drain pool covers, empty wading pools, clean clogged gutters, and just try to eliminate any standing water in your area to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs.

Next make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens so mosquitoes can’t get inside. Repair or replace old screens if possible to keep the pests outside.

Of course use insect repellent when you go outdoors. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the use of products containing active ingredients which have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing. Of the products registered with the EPA, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer lasting protection. The EPA registration means that EPA does not expect the product to cause adverse effects to human health or the environment when used according to the label.

Repellents containing a higher percentage of the active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting protection. Regardless of what product you use, if you start to get mosquito bites, reapply the repellent according to the label instructions. Always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label. EPA recommends the following when using insect repellents: apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not apply repellents under your clothing. Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using repellents sprays, do not spray directly on your face – spray on your hands first and then apply to your face. Do not allow children to handle or spray the product. When using on children, apply to your hands first and then put it on the child. Avoid applying repellent to children’s hands because they frequently put their hands in their eyes and mouth. Use just enough repellent to cover the exposed skin. Heavy application does not give you better or longer lasting protection.

After returning indoors wash the treated skin with soap and water or take a bath. If you get a rash stop using the repellent and wash it off with mild soap and water. Call the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 if you feel it is necessary. Most products can be used on children, except ones containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. EPA does not recommend any additional precautions for repellent use by pregnant or nursing women. You can and should use sunscreen with insect repellent but put the sunscreen on first.

Permethrin is a repellent and insecticide. Certain products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear. Permethrin-treated products repel and kill ticks, mosquitoes, and other arthropods. These products continue to repel and kill insects after several washings (approximately six). So mosquito smart and enjoy your summer!

Information provided by the Ohio Department of Health and submitted by Fayette County Health Department.

Protecting yourself from mosquitoes

The Record-Herald