This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Hot temperatures, longer days, road construction cones and mosquito season seem to represent the arrival of summer. While no one enjoys being bitten by these pesky bugs, there is more to be concerned about than the itchy bumps they leave behind. There are several diseases people can get from mosquito bites, but the most common one in our area is West Nile Virus.
The first case of West Nile Virus was reported in the United States in 1999 with the first case in Nevada in 2004. Each year the number of West Nile Virus cases increases. This means we need to all do our part to prevent mosquito breeding areas around our homes and to prevent mosquito bites as we enjoy these beautiful summer days.
The mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus require water to breed. Standing water, weeds, tall grass, shrubs, and old tires all provide an outdoor home for mosquitos. Even a small bucket that has stagnant water in it for a few days can become home to up to 1,000 mosquitoes! By eliminating places for mosquitoes to breed, we can go a long way toward preventing West Nile Virus. Here are some tips to eliminate standing water:
Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires, or any other water-holding containers around your yard.
Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outside.
Clean clogged roof gutters.
Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family that goes on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitos to result in neighborhood-wide complaints.
So what happens if you do get a mosquito bite? The majority of people who get infected with West Nile Virus have no illness, or at most, have symptoms similar to a mild flu with fever, nausea, body aches, skin rashes, headache and tiredness. These symptoms tend to show up between 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. While most West Nile Virus infections are mild, some people will develop a more serious infection called West Nile Encephalitis. The symptoms of this disease include high fever, a stiff neck, confusion, coma, tremors, and occasional paralysis. If you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
While currently there is no vaccine for West Nile Virus, there are several steps you can do to protect you and your family:
Use bug repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, IR3535, some oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane-diol.
Change the water in pet dishes daily and replace the water in bird baths every week.
Eliminate piles of yard waste or trash where water can collect.
Repair or replace screens over windows and doors to keep mosquitoes from coming into your home.
Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they are not in use.
Get rid of potential mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.
Any time you are outdoors cover up as much as possible with long pants and long sleeves especially during dawn and dusk as mosquitos are mostly active during this time.
These tips and tricks will help you tackle the mosquito season! Preventing mosquito breeding and being prepared for the outdoors will help you enjoy the warm summer temperatures and long days.
For additional information on mosquito prevention and West Nile Virus, visit www.cdc.gov/features/stopmosquitoes/index.html and www.cdc.gov/westnile. You can also visit Carson City Health and Human Services website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org to learn more about mosquito prevention. Please “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs.