Each summer, mosquitoes are a familiar biting pest in backyards, parks and campgrounds. Most are merely a nuisance and are not major vectors of diseases. In fact, only a few of the 59 species of mosquitoes in Ohio can transmit disease.
However, the diseases these mosquitoes can carry are very serious ones, such as West Nile Virus, encephalitis and malaria in humans and heartworm in dogs. Therefore, it is always advisable to take preventive measures to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites.
The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. Being aware of mosquito and mosquito-borne disease activity in your area allows you to take action to protect yourself and others.
Avoid mosquito bites:
• Use insect repellent when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
• Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label). 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 repellent 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 own hands first and then put it on the child. Avoid applying repellent to children’s hands because children frequently put their hands in their eyes and mouths.
• Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application does not give you better or longer lasting protection.
• After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days.
• If you (or your child) get a rash or other reaction from a repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If you go to a doctor, it might be helpful to take the repellent with you.
• When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
• Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Mosquito proof your home:
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
• Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths on a regular basis.
If you have any more questions please call the Madison County Health Department at 740-852-3065.
Susie Hyden is the registrar/environmental health clerk at the Madison County-London City Health District. She may be reached at 740-852-3065.