Skeeter buzz is coming
When the warm and rainy days arrive in the spring, mosquitoes aren’t far behind.
Recent rains have produced standing water in ditches, gutters and household planters. Any standing water is a good breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can breed in just two teaspoons of stagnant water.
Not only are the insects a nuisance, they also can carry several diseases that can sicken people and livestock.
Each spring, the Guilford County Department of Public Health warns residents that removing standing water from around the house can go a long way toward limiting swarms of the pesky insects. Also, when the grass dries, be sure to mow to control mosquito and tick breeding areas.
You can limit your exposure to both ticks and mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Avoid going outside during dusk or dawn when mosquitoes feed. Heat and carbon dioxide from breathing attract mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes need human blood to develop fertile eggs. Males do not bite.
Insect repellents also can be helpful, particularly against mosquitoes. Be careful and strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Products with DEET are the best repellents. Dr. Ward Robinson, county medical director, says the best lotion is the “OFF” brand, according to research.
Follow these simple steps to help reduce mosquito breeding:
• Discard all containers that hold water such as tires, bottles, flowerpots and saucers, small pools, buckets and tarps. Empty them as least every seven days.
• Keep gutters clean and in good repair.
• Repair leaky outdoor faucets.
• Screen or cover any outside rain barrels used for water conservation.
• Make sure screens on windows and doors fit tightly and are not torn.
Horse owners should discuss their annual vaccinations with their veterinarians to protect their animals against EEE and West Nile Virus. The vaccinations initially require two shots, three to four weeks apart, for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccinations.
In 2012, there were 20 confirmed cases of EEE and three cases of West Nile Virus, but state officials say they expect up to four unreported cases for each one confirmed, making the possible impact much larger.
“North Carolina has an extended mosquito breeding period, so every horse owner should talk to their veterinarian about how to protect their animal year-round,” State Veterinarian David Marshall said. “In addition to getting animals vaccinated, everyone needs to be extra vigilant now to reduce the breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Take the time now to rid your yard and pasture of any standing water to reduce the risk.”
People, horses and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the diseases, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the virus to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.
Mosquitoes: La Crosse virus, Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus are mosquito-borne illnesses found throughout North Carolina.
Ticks: Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most common tick-borne illness in North Carolina. The Tarheel state and Oklahoma usually lead the nation in reported cases.
Information: Contact the Guilford County Department of Public Health at 641-7777; Visit the following Web sites, www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/arbovirus and www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/tick.