The World Health Organization estimates that more than 700,000 people die worldwide each year as a result of mosquito-borne diseases.
And while deaths in the United States make up a small percentage of that, the possibility exists. That’s why experts from organizations like the Yavapai County Community Health Services are on high alert this time of year. With the monsoon arriving soon, that concern increases even more.
“Mosquitoes in general are not much of a concern,” YCCHS’ Cecil Newell said. “Most of the vicious, nasty biters are just nuisance mosquitoes and do not cause any mosquito-borne illnesses. However, the county is very concerned with the mosquitoes in our area that carry and have the ability to infect citizens with West Nile virus, Zika, dengue, etc.”
Newell said residents should make sure there are no breeding sites around their yards. Standing water as shallow as a half-inch deep is all it takes. This includes water dishes, bird baths and tires.
By reducing mosquito breeding, he said you reduce the sheer number of mosquitoes in your neighborhood.
“With the monsoon rains, everything that was once dry is now wet and any standing water is a potential breeding site for mosquitoes,” he said. “Mosquitoes will lay their eggs on the surface of the water, and in as little as five to seven days new mosquitoes will emerge.”
As the monsoon approaches it is important to understand the risks of diseases mosquitoes carry, such as Zika, West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever, and what can be done to prevent them.
Arizona is home to about 50 mosquito species, including Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that can carry and spread diseases like the Zika virus. This mosquito is well-adapted to the Arizona climate, Newell said.
“YCCHS is performing routine trappings of mosquitoes throughout the county for the West Nile virus,” he said. “No lab results have come back positive. However, we have found Aedes aegypti species in the Sedona/Village of Oak Creek area.”
The Aedes aegypti likes to stay close to home and won’t travel very far for a blood meal — better known as a mosquito bite. So if the opportunities for reproduction around your home is decreased, it dramatically reduces your chances of being bit.
Mosquito samples collected on June 19 in the Village of Oak Creek were all Aedes aegypti, the Zika mosquito, and Culex quinquefasciatus, the West Nile virus mosquito. Those mosquitoes were tested for West Nile virus and came back negative.
While the West Nile virus is found in mosquitoes most years, imported Zika cases are new to Arizona and should be a real concern to everyone, Newell said. Only 20 percent of those adults infected with Zika will experience any symptoms at all and are similar to flu-like symptoms.
YCCHS recommends the following during mosquito season: n Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- If you have a baby or child, do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes and mouth, or to cuts or irritated skin.
- Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
“I feel the lack of education about the dangers of mosquito-borne illnesses is what gives people a passive attitude about them,” Newell said.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS