As summer winds down, mosquito activity often heats up. That’s why public health officials are urging residents to continue to take the proper precautions to keep themselves from being bitten. Especially for those who plan to be outside at Friday night football games and other outdoor activities.
Statewide, 259 mosquito samples in 52 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus, with three confirmed human cases. In Allen County, 17 of the 157 mosquito pools tested so far have been positive.
But now is not the time to get complacent, says David Fiess, Director of Vector Control and Environmental Services for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health.
“This is traditionally the time of the season when we start to see infection in both mosquitoes and in humans,” Fiess says. “It’s important that we stay vigilant. Mosquitoes will still be around until the second hard frost. If you’re going to be outside for any length of time, make sure you are wearing repellent. And make sure you get rid of any sources of standing water around your home.”
West Nile virus is generally spread by nighttime-biting mosquitoes and most often causes serious illness in people over age 50 and those with already compromised immune systems. LaCrosse encephalitis, another mosquito-borne disease, most often strikes children and teenagers and is spread by mosquitoes which generally bite during the day. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for either disease and both can be life-threatening.
To reduce your risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease, do the following:
- DEET. Apply an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes or exposed skin.
- Dress appropriately. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside.
§ Drain. Remove any sources of standing water such as empty flowerpots, buckets, old tires and clogged gutters. Water-holding tree holes should be filled with dirt, sand, or a pliable insulation cement to prevent mosquito breeding.
§ Door and window screens. Make sure windows and doors have secure screens and replace or repair any tears or holes.
To report mosquito activity or the location of dead birds, call (260) 449-7459. For more information on mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, visit www.allencountyhealth.com.