Submitted by the Needham Public Health Department
It’s that time of year again—mosquito breeding season. The Needham Public Health Department would like to remind you of some important tips to help prevent the possibility of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses, specifically, West Nile Virus (WNV) or Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). There is a low risk of WNV infection following a mosquito bite. Most people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes experience no illness or only mild illness, but a small number of people develop a more serious disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the summer of 2012 may be one of the worst on record in years for mosquitoes. The warm winter has created conditions which allow for mosquito breeding. This is bad news for mosquitoes as it brings heightened attention on what Americans can do to protect themselves from the pesky and disease-bearing vectors.
Whether from the unseasonably warm spring or wet conditions, mosquitoes are already out in full force and several parts of the country and some have tested positive for the West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes.
Here are the main mosquito prevention reminders to help keep your self safe:
1. Tip. Reduce standing water to eliminate mosquito threats, including those in children's sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts, in plant saucers and dog bowls. Other hot spots include tarps, gutters, and flat roofs.
2. Toss. Remove excess grass, leaves, firewood and clippings from yards.
3. Turn. Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like children's portable sandboxes or plastic toys.
4. Remove tarps. If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment and grills aren't taut, they're holding water.
5. Protect. Using DEET-containing bug spray on the body, will help keep mosquitoes and ticks at bay.
While generally a nuisance, mosquitoes can carry dangerous diseases such as West Nile virus and encephalitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 300,000 Americans have been sickened with West Nile Virus since it arrived in the United States 11 years ago.
Here are some additional important tips, on how you can stay safe in your own backyard, which are brought to you by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA).
- Avoid shaded areas where mosquitoes may be resting.
- If possible, schedule your activities to avoid the times when mosquitoes are most active—usually dawn and dusk.
- If you have a deck or patio, light it using General Electric yellow “Bug Lights." These lights are not repellant, per se, but do not attract mosquitoes like other incandescent lights.
- Mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers, so placing a large fan on your deck or patio can provide an effective low-tech solution.
- Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeve shirts when outdoors.
- Use insect repellents properly. DEET, Picaridin and Oil of Lemon-Eucalyptus are proven to be the most effective. Use repellents only as directed on the label.
- Check your door and window screens for holes and tears that mosquitoes can use to enter your home. Put 16 mesh screening or hardware cloth over bathroom and other vent outlets on your roof.
- Keep pools clean and chlorinated.
- Eliminate all standing water on your property. Don't forget to remind your neighbors, too. Their mosquitoes may also be your mosquitoes.
- Dispose of any tires. Tires can breed thousands of mosquitoes.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers.
- Clear roof gutters of debris.
- Clean pet water dishes regularly.
- Check and empty children’s toys.
- Repair leaky outdoor faucets.
- Change the water in bird baths and plant pots at least once a week.
- Canoes, boats, and wading pools should be turned over.
- Avoid water collecting on pool covers.
- Plug tree holes and stumps.
- Fill in or drain puddles and ruts in your yard.
- Keep shrubbery and weeds trimmed
- Even the smallest of containers that can collect water can breed hundreds to thousands of mosquitoes. They don't need much water to lay their eggs. (bottles, buckets, overturned garbage can lids, etc.)
Message from the Norfolk County Mosquito Control Project Director:
“Norfolk County Mosquito Control is helping to increase the quality of life for citizens and stands ready to respond to public health issues such as EEEv and WNv. The Norfolk County Mosquito Control Project collaborates with the Department of Public Health by submitting mosquitoes weekly from across the county for testing to be used as an early detection system for these viruses.”
Remember, the best protection is prevention!
For more information on this topic, you can contact the Needham Public Health Department office at 781-455-7500; Ext. 511.
You can also check out the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) website, www.mosquito.org/.
The Norfolk County Mosquito Control Project offers more information on their website at www.norfolkcountymosquito.org/. You can also reach them at 781-762-3681. The MA Department of Public Health website has current surveillance information on Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV) at westnile.ashtonweb.com/index42.asp. You can also call the state information line at 866-MASS WNV.