News Releases > Risk of mosquito-borne disease rises with temperature
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (May 21, 2009). –- As spring turns to summer, local health officials are on the lookout for West Nile virus, an infection spread to people through the bite of a mosquito.
The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health has launched its annual mosquito control program which focuses on treating and eliminating potential breeding sites and placing traps to collect and test mosquitoes for the virus.
Residents are also urged to take precautions such as eliminating standing water on their property and using bug repellent whenever they go outside to work or play.
“Every person in Allen County can make a difference in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases by eliminating breeding sites found around their homes or businesses,” says David Fiess, Director of the Vector Control and Environmental Services Division. “It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to transmit a disease.”
Although West Nile virus is usually a mild illness for most people, it can lead to serious complications and even death. Older people or people with weakened immune systems face the highest risk of developing severe illness. There is no vaccine to protect humans.
Health officials say people can reduce their risk of not just West Nile virus transmission, but other mosquito-borne diseases such as LaCrosse encephalitis, by applying a repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin when going outside. When using repellent, always follow the label instructions.
Other important steps to prevent mosquito bites include:
- Avoid going outdoors during peak mosquito biting times, such as dawn and dusk;
- Drain or remove standing water from flower pots, trash cans, tires, buckets and other containers where mosquitoes can breed;
- Flush the water in pet bowls and bird baths regularly and make sure gutters are free of debris;
- Keep swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs clean and properly chlorinated or covered tightly; and
- Aerate ornamental pools or ponds or stock them with mosquito-eating fish available for free from the health department. Fish can be picked up Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1:30 – 4 p.m. at the Vector Control and Environmental Services office at 2242 Carroll Road. Call (260) 449-7459 for details.
Mosquitoes only need about one-fourth inch of water to complete their life cycle, so any help from the public to eliminate stagnant water can protect the community, Fiess says.
For more information, visit www.allencountyhealth.com.