Every summer our backyards, woods and parks also become a favorite hangout for mosquitoes. There are 59 species of mosquitoes found in Ohio and a few of those can transmit diseases. Crawford County and Galion City Health Departments caution residents to take appropriate measures to reduce their risk of infection.
“Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing infection from any mosquito-borne disease,” said Stephanie Zmuda, Director of Environmental Health with the Galion City Health Department. “One bite from an infected mosquito can lead to a severe and possibly life-altering illness.”
How to prevent mosquito bites:
* Use insect repellents when outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, provide longer-lasting protection. (Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.)
* Avoid peak biting hours. Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and through the night. You need to take extra care to use repellents at this time and if weather permits, wear long sleeves and long pants.
* Prohibit entry to your home. Utilize screens in your windows and keep them in good condition to prevent the mosquitoes from entering your home.
* Reduce breeding sites. You can help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying containers that hold standing water (buckets, pet water dishes, bird baths, tires, downspouts, etc.) and replacing the water on a regular basis.
“While the different species of mosquitoes exhibit unique behaviors and live in specific habitats, they all need standing water to lay their eggs,” explains Kate Siefert, Director of Environmental Health,
Crawford County General Health District. “That is why it is very important to empty containers that hold standing water.”
In the United States, West Nile virus (WNV) continues to be the leading disease caused by a mosquito bite with 2,469 cases of WNV reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2013. WNV is transmitted to humans through the bite of a mosquito that had previously bitten an infected bird. WNV symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, joint paints, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.
WNV is considered to be present in all counties of Ohio. Fortunately, most people infected do not develop symptoms. It is estimated that only 1 in 5 people develop symptoms. Humans are considered “dead end hosts” for WNV since we cannot pass the virus back to uninfected mosquitoes if we are bitten while infected with the virus.
Chikungunya virus, long present in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Indian & Pacific Oceans, was found for the first time on islands in the Caribbean in 2013 and there are reports of Americans returning home from vacation with symptoms of illness. Travelers can become infected through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya symptoms include fever and extreme joint pain. There are no antiviral medicines to treat Chikungunya but there are medicines to help reduce the fever and pain. If you become infected with Chikungunya, it is very important that you avoid being bitten by mosquitoes since you can further spread the virus in your area by infecting more mosquitoes.
This message was brought to you by your public health partners at the Crawford County General Health District and the Galion City Health Department.