Mosquito protection in the fall season
Although summer is ending, hurricane season continues through November. This season often brings tropical storms with heavy rain and flooding, which leads to standing water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Summer’s dry heat may have killed mosquito larvae, but any eggs left behind can survive in dry areas up to eight months, and stay dormant until the next rainfall. Items in your yard, such as birdbaths, may have mosquito eggs inside. Be sure to scrub birdbaths weekly, as it only takes seven to 10 days for an egg to develop into an adult mosquito. It is important to stay vigilant throughout the fall season to prevent mosquito bites and breeding.
Protect yourself and your family by practicing the “three D’s”:
Drain: Clean and empty standing water in lawn furniture, children’s outdoor toys, buckets, flower pots, clogged gutters, wheelbarrows, birdbaths, old tires, and tarps. Use mosquito dunks, a chemical larvicide that kills mosquitoes in an immature stage, in ponds or other areas with standing water.
Dress: When going outdoors, wear light-colored, longsleeved clothing, socks, and shoes. Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting. Avoid being outside early and late in the day — times when mosquitoes are flying.
Defend: Use an Environmental Protection Agency-approved mosquito repellent with one of the following ingredients: • DEET • Picaridin • IR3535 • Oil of lemon eucalyptus • Para-menthen-diol Protect your home by ensuring door and window screens fit tightly and holes are repaired. Use air conditioning for heat relief instead of opening doors and windows when available. In your yard, tightly cover water storage containers, such as buckets or rain barrels. Also, repair any holes or gaps in septic tanks.
Mosquitoes carry a variety of illnesses and diseases, depending on location and mosquito type. The mosquito-borne Zika virus is specifically dangerous to women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant because it can cause brain damage to the fetus. The majority of Zika virus cases in the United States have been related to travel in areas of Zika outbreaks, or through sexual contact with someone infected with Zika. To learn more about Zika, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at http:// wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.
More information on mosquito preparedness can be found by visiting the Charles County Department of Health website at www.CharlesCountyHealth. org, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website at http://phpa.dhmh. maryland.gov, Maryland Department of Agriculture website at www.mda.maryland. gov, or CDC website at www. cdc.gov.
Thank you in advance for being proactive and doing your part to prevent mosquito-borne illness in our community.
William Stephens is the director of the Department of Emergency Services.
Dr. Dianna E. Abney is health officer of the Charles County Department of Health. * The column’s content was provided in partnership with the Charles County Department of Health.