Summer is here which means lots of activities take place such as a dip in the pool, vacations, grilling out and other backyard gatherings. All these are fun to do, but along with the enjoyment comes the pesky insects that are annoying to us that can cause serious problems.
Mosquitoes, the flying, humming insect that lands on you and leaves an infective bite and itchy feeling. These are the Aedes mosquitoes such as A.aegypti and A.albopictus. They have been known to cause dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus and now another virus called Zika. The Zika virus is mainly spread by the infected daytime active Aedes mosquitoes, and the most common symptoms are mild fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. These symptoms normally last 2-7 days with no hospital stay.
It is also very important to control mosquitoes by removing places where they lay eggs. They lay eggs in or near standing water for breeding of their young. Most of the problems come from water-filled containers that you, the resident, can help to eliminate.
• Dispose of any tires (cause mosquito breeding)
• Drill holes in bottom of recycle container
• Clean and dump pet water dishes regularly
• Check and empty children’s toys
• Repair leaky outdoor faucets
• Change water in bird baths at least weekly
Even the smallest of containers that collect water can lead to breeding of hundreds to thousands of mosquitoes. They don’t need much water to lay their eggs.
Protect yourself by wearing light colored, loose fitting clothing, and when practical, wear long sleeves and pants in extreme cases. The use of insect repellents is another way to control mosquito bites. Just make sure they are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Registered products have been reviewed, approved, and pose minimal risk for human safety when used according to label directions. The three repellents that are recommended are:
• Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
Rules to follow when using repellents:
• Read the directions and labels carefully
• Apply only to exposed skin (not on clothing)
• Keep repellents away from eyes, nostrils, and lips (don’t inhale/ingest them)
• DEET repellents can be used on children 2 months and older (concentrations 30 percent or less)
• Pregnant and nursing women should minimize the use of repellents
• Never use repellents on wounds or irritated skin
• Wash repellent treated skin after coming indoors
If a suspected reaction occurs to insect repellent, wash treated skin and consult a physician, take the repellent container with you.
Again, remember these helpful tips when traveling, laying around the pool or participating in your favorite outdoor activities. Remember the three D’s: Drain, Dress and Defend or Tip and Toss method to avoid the breeding of mosquitoes. Enjoy your summer!
Perry E. Solice, Jr. REHS is the Environmental Health Supervisor with the Sampson County Health Department.