Don't be bugged by the mosquito's bite
It’s summertime and that means warm temperatures, cookouts and mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes primarily feed on nectar, but in order to produce eggs, the female needs blood. According to the Franklin County Board of Health, only the female bites. It typically lives a month, but can produce up to 1,000 eggs in its lifetime.
Mosquitoes and disease
There are over 60 species of mosquitoes in Ohio. Not all carry disease and most prefer not to bite humans. However, some species carry diseases such as the West Nile Virus, La Crosse and St. Louis encephalitis.
According to the board of health, the West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be found in birds and other animals.
The virus attacks the central nervous system and can cause systems such as fever and a headache. For most people, the risk of contracting West Nile is low. People over 50 and those with a compromised immune system are more likely to display symptoms.
Last year, there were 15 human cases of West Nile reported in the state and one death. There were no human cases in Franklin County.
La Crosse Encephalitis is native to the upper Midwest. The virus can cause flu-like symptoms including headache, nausea, fatigue and vomiting. Children under 15 or those with a compromised immune system are at a greater risk. Severe effects from the virus can include seizures, coma and permanent brain damage.
Since 2000, 165 cases of La Crosse have been reported in Ohio; 9 from Franklin County.
Since 1976, there have been 26 cases of St. Louis Encephalitis in Ohio. Most cases of this disease remain undiagnosed. Symptoms vary from a mild headache to inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Mosquitoes can also spread heartworm, which can infect dogs, cats and other wild animals such as coyotes and foxes. Talk to your veterinarian about preventative measures.
Keep them away from your yard
The board of health says eliminating mosquito habitat around your yard can go a long way to reduce the population of the insect.
Mosquitoes need standing water for their young to hatch and develop, but it does not take much water. Here is a list of common mosquito habitats:
•Tires, buckets, bottles and plastic containers
•Bird baths and children’s pools
•Pool covers that hold water
•Pet food containers and water dishes
•Clogged gutters and downspouts
•Leaky faucets that create puddles
•Planters and pots
The board of health recommends you check your property for mosquito habitat and remove standing water.
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. The board of health advises residents to avoid outdoors at this time.
If you go outdoors, wear light colors and cover your body while in mosquito-infested areas. Avoid perfume, cologne or other heavy scents and use a DEET based repellent.
To keep mosquitoes out of your home, make sure your doors and screens have no holes.
For more information on mosquitoes, log onto www.franklincountyohio.gov or call the county’s mosquito hotline at 462-2483.
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