Pesky mosquito can be health risk

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By The Staff

Florida Department of Health (DOH) officials emphasize to Florida’s residents and visitors the importance of protecting themselves against mosquito-borne diseases as we move into the summer rainy season and peak mosquito activity months. 

DOH works with partner agencies, including the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, mosquito control agencies, and state universities throughout the year, to monitor for the presence of illnesses carried by mosquitoes, including West Nile virus (WNV) infection, St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE), and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). 

Most people that become ill will have mild symptoms including headache, fever, dizziness, and fatigue, but severe neurological symptoms are also possible.  Although mosquito diseases can cause serious illnesses and even death in people of any age, children and those over 50 are at greatest risk for severe disease.  Physicians should contact their County Health Department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness.  DOH laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne diseases. 

Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent disease. DOH recommends remembering the 5 D’s: dusk, dawn, dress, DEET, and drainage.

Avoid being outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are seeking blood.

Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.

When the potential exists for exposure to mosquitoes, repellents containing up to 30 percent DEET are recommended.  Other effective mosquito repellents include picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535.

Check around your home for proper drainage to rid the area of standing water, where mosquitoes lay eggs.

Tips on Repellent Use

Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before applying a repellent. 

In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is appropriate.  DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.  Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children less than 3 years old.

Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when outside.

Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children.  Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.  

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin or onto clothing, but not under clothing.  Do not apply repellent to the eyes or mouth, cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.

If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to clothing or gear. 

Tips on Eliminating Mosquito Breeding Sites

Remove water in old tires, buckets, garbage cans, and other containers where water collects.

Check clogged gutters and flat roofs that may have poor drainage.

Fill in holes or dips in the ground that collect water.  Level the ground around your home so water can run off.

Empty birdbaths, water bowls, plant pots, and wading pools once or twice a week.

Store boats upside down or with a cover.

Monitoring wild bird deaths can help officials track the spread of some mosquito-borne diseases. Anyone who discovers a dead bird is encouraged to report it on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website at www.MyFWC.com/bird/.  For those who do not have access to the Internet, dead birds may be reported to the county health department or local FWC office.

For more information on mosquito borne illnesses, visit the DOH Web site at www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site www.cdc.gov, or contact your local county health department.