OSDH Offers Tips for a Safe Mosquito Season
OKLAHOMA CITY - Mosquito season has arrived, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health is offering tips to help avoid ailments spread by the insects. West Nile Virus is the most common disease spread by mosquitoes in Oklahoma.
“As much rain as we are having, mosquitoes are going to be abundant this season,” Public Health Veterinarian LeMac’ Morris said. “Weather has a major influence on mosquito populations. May is the traditional start of mosquito season, but mosquitoes can appear as early as March and may persist even after the first fall frost.”
According to the CDC, there are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat West Nile Virus in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.
Mosquitoes can bite day or night. They hibernate in or near homes to survive cold temperatures, and lay their eggs anywhere with stagnant water. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in as little as a tablespoon of standing water.
Preventing mosquito bites and controlling mosquitoes around your home are the best ways to protect against mosquito-borne diseases.
Prevent mosquito bites with ‘The Four D’s’:
- DEET – Apply mosquito repellant containing DEET or another approved active ingredient
- EPA-registered insect repellents include: DEET, Picaridin, OLE and IR3535
- Always follow label instructions when applying insect repellants
- Do not apply insect repellent to your hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin
- Reapply as directed on the product label
- Dusk (and Dawn) – Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
- Drain – Drain any standing, stagnant water found in containers or areas around your home and workplace
- Dress – Dress yourself in long sleeves and long pants to shield skin from mosquitoes
Control mosquitoes around your home:
- Keep windows and door screens in good repair
- Prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or discard items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, bird baths, flower pots or trash containers.
- Use larvicides to treat large bodies of water not used for drinking that can’t be covered or dumped out. Larvicides prevent mosquito larvae from maturing into biting adults.
- Use an outdoor adulticide to kill adult mosquitoes in areas where they rest, such as dark, humid areas, under patio furniture or under the carport or garage.
- Mosquito control products are available at most home improvement and garden stores.
Additional information is available online: https://oklahoma.gov/health/prevention-and-preparedness/acute-disease-service/disease-information/tickborne-and-mosquitoborne-diseases.html.
Culex quinauefasciatus is the mosquito that carries West Nile Virus. Image courtesy of the CDC