News

Take the bite out of mosquitoes

Health department conducts statewide watch for mosquito-borne illnesses

Mosquito sucking blood, extreme close-up with high magnification

The mosquito-borne illness alert for Escambia County has been lifted.

Surveillance data indicate that the risk of human infection has decreased, according to the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County.

While mosquito-borne illnesses are less common in the winter months, the health department recommends that visitors and residents of the county continue to “drain and cover” to protect against bitten mosquitoes.

Eliminating standing water is an important step in stopping mosquitoes from multiplying.

The health department recommendations to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, include:

  • Draining water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discarding old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
  • Emptying and cleaning birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protecting boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
  • Maintaining swimming pools and ensuring that they are appropriately chlorinated. Emptying plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Other ways for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites is to cover their skin with clothing or repellent.

Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of a house.

Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.

Wear shoes, socks and long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who work in areas where mosquitoes are present.

Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.

Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are most effective.

Use mosquito netting instead of repellent to protect children younger than 2 months old.

Repellents are good ways to ward off mosquitoes, but it’s important to carefully read label directions for approved usage before applying them. Some repellents are not suitable for children.

Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended.  Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.  These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.

The best way to use repellent is to apply it to exposed skin or onto clothing, but never under clothing.

In protecting children, read label instructions to ensure the repellent is age-appropriate.

Mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DEET is not recommended for children younger than 2 months old.

When applying repellent, avoid putting it on the hands of children. Adults should apply it first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.

If more protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to the clothing.

The health department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, Malaria, Chikungunya, and Dengue.

Report dead birds through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website at http://www.myfwc.com/bird/.

  For more information, visit the department’s website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/index.html or call your local county health department.

The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow them on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook at FLDepartmentofHealth.

For more information about the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, visit www.escambiahealth.com.