Mosquito bites are more than just a nuisance: they can make you sick. That’s why mosquito prevention should be towards the top of your summer-time chore list. Mosquitos can spread a number of diseases to both people and animals, first by biting an infected person or animal then transmitting the disease through each subsequent bite.
Mosquito-borne diseases that effect humans include West Nile virus, Zika virus, malaria, dengue, chikungunya, St. Louis encephalitis, and yellow fever. Mosquitos can also carry diseases to which dogs are very susceptible, including eastern equine encephalitis and dog heartworm. These diseases, though fortunately rare in the continental United States, can be very serious—sometimes causing life-threatening symptoms.
(Side note: Here are some other insects that will bite or sting your furry friends.)
Some mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, are only a significant risk for people who travel outside the United States. Others, such as West Nile and encephalitis, can be contracted in your own backyard.
This year, public health officials have expressed concerns about West Nile virus in particular. Mosquitos collected in traps throughout Ohio—including in Hamilton and Warren counties—have recently tested positive for West Nile virus.
The effects of West Nile virus vary widely, from mild to deadly. In most cases, 4 out of 5, the virus won’t cause any symptoms. In 1 out of 5 cases, the infected person will develop “flu-like” symptoms, which include a fever, headache, body aches, tiredness, and/or a rash. These symptoms might last from days to even a few weeks or months.
A small percentage of people who are infected will develop a serious neurological illness, such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or meningitis (swelling of the membranes around the brain). These neurological illnesses are extremely severe and require hospital intervention.
While anyone can get them, people over 60, people with pre-existing medical conditions, and people who have had an organ transplant are more vulnerable.
There is no vaccine for West Nile, so the only way to completely avoid the virus is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos.
To keep you and your family (including your pets) safe from mosquitos this summer, it’s important to take the proper precautions. We’ve outlined the three most important ones below.
Keep Mosquitos Out of Your Yard
The key to a (mostly) mosquito-free summer is eliminating mosquito breeding grounds in your yard. Mosquitos like to breed in shallow, standing water, so get rid of any sources of this. For example, change the water in bird baths, water foundations, rain barrels, and potted plants every couple of days. In addition, circulate and clean the water in your swimming pool regularly. After a heavy rainstorm, inspect your yard for pools of water and drain or fill them with dirt.
For more tips, read our in-depth blog post on keeping mosquitoes away.
Keep Mosquitos Out of Your Home
During mosquito-heavy times of the day (dawn, dusk, and night), it’s a good idea to try to stay indoors as much as possible. However, your home can only be a safe haven if mosquitos can’t follow you inside. To prevent mosquitos from entering, cover any gaps in walls, doors, and windows. If you like to leave windows or doors open to let in a breeze, use screens.
Keep Mosquitos Off Your Skin
If you are going to be outside during times of high mosquito activity, make sure to use effective, EPA-registered insect repellent. The repellant should include one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin (otherwise known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin), oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD), IR3535, or 2-undecanone, according to the CDC. Always follow the usage directions on the packaging.
In addition to using insect repellant, consider wearing long sleeves and pants. To minimize exposed skin even further, tuck your pants into your shoes.
You can’t use insect repellants designed for humans on your pets, however. (They’re toxic to pets.) To keep mosquitos off your pets, limit their time outdoors when mosquitos are particularly active, and purchase a pet-specific mosquito repellant. Some flea and tick repellants also repel mosquitoes.
Although it is impossible to completely eliminate mosquitos, ScherZinger has developed a Mosquito Mitigation Program to help to control these pests around your home so that you can enjoy the warm weather without the aggravation of itchy insect bites.
Concerned you have a pest problem on your hands? Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.