Mosquitoes Can Spread Illness
Sentinel chicken flocks maintained by local governments and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are showing an increase in mosquito-borne viruses that can make people and animals sick. These birds are showing an increase in Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) activity from mosquito bites. Four horses have also been reported with EEE.
To avoid human illness, Public Health officials are urging North Carolinians to take simple steps to prevent mosquito bites and to reduce mosquito breeding conditions around the home.
“Recent rainfall in some parts of the state, along with the warm summer weather, provides ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Engel. “Mosquitoes can be more than just a nuisance – they can also make people seriously ill. Now is the time to fight the bite!”
Exposure to mosquitoes can be limited by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and by using insect repellant, Engel said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends several repellant ingredients against mosquitoes – DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.However, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years old, says the CDC. Engel reminded consumers to look for products that contain the CDC-recommended ingredients and to carefully read and follow all label instructions.
Another key to avoiding bites is reducing the numbers of mosquitoes around people’s homes, according to Dr. Nolan Newton, chief of DENR’s Public Health Pest Management Section.
“You can make your backyard a whole lot less mosquito-friendly by getting rid of any containers that hold water. That will take away mosquito breeding grounds,” Newton said.
“Take a good look at your yard to spot potential problem areas,” he said. “Things like bird baths, old tires, planters, toys and even small containers like tin cans can give mosquitoes a place to thrive. Cover rain barrels with tight-fitting screening and clean out birdbaths at least twice a week.”