Prevent mosquito breeding, spread of mosquito illnesses

The Jackson County Health Department and its environmental division are urging residents to clean up around their homes, yards and communities and discard unnecessary items that can hold water.

“Tip ‘n Toss after every rainfall to reduce the number of mosquitoes and prevent the spread of illnesses,” said Paul Ramsey, an environmentalist at the health department.

“In our area, there are many different mosquito species that can spread different illnesses,” he said. “And each year, the health department and other public health officials have tried to inform residents about illnesses, such as West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis.”

In the spring, temperatures begin to warm up, spring rains arrive and mosquito eggs that have been dormant hatch into mosquitoes, according to a news release from the health department.

Aedes mosquitoes, the species known to carry West Nile virus, typically bite during the day, especially in the early morning and late afternoon hours, but some bite at night. They are called container breeders because they lay eggs in any type of container with water, even something as small as a bottle cap if it has water in it.

One of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of any virus is controlling the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around the home and in the yard.

After every rainfall, tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools and buckets. If it holds water and you don’t need it, such as old tires, bottles and cans, toss it out.

Look for small bodies of water, such as drainage ponds, tree stumps and tire ruts. Clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.

For containers without lids or that are too big to Tip ‘n Toss, including birdbaths and garden pools, use larvicides, such as mosquito dunks or mosquito torpedoes, and follow the label instructions. Larvicides will not hurt birds or animals.

The health department urges homeowners associations and neighborhoods to sponsor community cleanup days.

“Mosquitoes don’t recognize property lines, so controlling their numbers will require a collaborative effort among all residents,” Ramsey said.

Public health has been increasing mosquito surveillance, its vector control program and educating residents, but the greatest impact will be when individuals take personal responsibility for their homes, yards and communities, according to the news release.

Whether individuals are outside due to employment or hobbies, it also is important to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing 20 to 30 percent DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves, long pants and socks to help prevent mosquito bites.

Additional protection against mosquito bites can be gained by treating clothing with permethrin. Follow the product instructions on proper and safe use.

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