The mosquito season is upon us in Ohio. From May through October, these pesky and pervasive pests can be found just about everywhere.
Mosquitoes are known to live indoors and outdoors in warmer climates. They’re active at all hours of the day, although they especially prefer dusk and dawn; and they will bite unsuspecting victims at any opportunity.
Bites, and those itchy red bumps that come with them, are a commonly accepted nuisance for most people who enjoy the warm-weather months. But this season, it’s important to be extra vigilant against mosquito bites due to the recently identified threat of the Zika virus.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness declared by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency of international concern. Symptoms are often mild and include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). There is currently no vaccine or medication available to treat or prevent the spread of the Zika virus. It is spread from mosquito-to-person and between sexual partners, but it is not transmittable from person-to-person through casual contact according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The risk of infection is greatest for pregnant women, or those wanting to become pregnant, because the Zika virus can spread from a mother to her unborn child and may cause serious birth defects including microcephaly, which inhibits a baby’s head and brain from developing normally.
Information about the Zika virus is constantly being updated as doctors and researchers continue to learn more. While a cure is not yet available, there are a number of steps to take to keep families safe and help stop the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Apply mosquito repellent over sunscreen when outside. Wash off repellents when indoors.
- Use EPA-registered repellent and always follow instructions on the label. DEET is the most effective active ingredient in repellents. Look for repellents containing 10-30 percent DEET.
- Other active ingredients may include: Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus
- Spray clothing with permethrin. Do not apply permethrin to skin.
- Wear shirts with long sleeves and pants.
Note: Repellents should not be applied to children ages 2 months and younger.
Mosquito-proof your home:
- Make sure screens on doors and windows are in good repair.
- Regularly empty standing water in flower pots, bird baths, tire swings or any other place where water may gather around your home. This will prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
- Sleep inside in air-conditioned areas with the windows closed.
- Consider using a mosquito bed net when sleeping or resting.
Additionally, it is advised that travelers, especially pregnant women or couples wishing to become pregnant, avoid going to countries and/or territories such as the Caribbean, Central America and South America where the Zika virus is prevalent.
Seek care from your primary care physician immediately if you or someone you know may have contracted the Zika virus or another mosquito-borne disease, such as the chikungunya and dengue viruses. Those who become infected with the Zika virus should take preventive measures to avoid exposure to mosquito bites for up to three weeks after a diagnosis in order to avoid spreading the virus further.
More information is available from the CDC, the Ohio Department of Health and the Butler County Board of Health at the links below: