Get Healthy Carson City: Buzz off! Carson City combats mosquitoes

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Summer season is the time to beware of the buzzing, biting menace of mosquitoes. Mosquito activity has been higher this year than in previous years since we had a wetter winter, leaving more water for mosquitoes to reproduce.

Although most everyone hates the itchy welts left by their bites, mosquitoes aren’t just annoying pests. They can spread a number of diseases to people, pets and livestock. Keeping yourself, your family, and your pets safe from mosquito-borne diseases is a public health concern. With the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero under threat from mosquitoes, Zika virus has been in the headlines a lot lately. Although the species of mosquito that carries Zika isn’t present in Northern Nevada, there are still plenty of other good reasons to protect yourself against mosquito bites. For example, West Nile Virus, which can be a serious illness, has been found in our area.

Carson City Health and Human Services’ Environmental Health Specialists have already conducted two large mosquito abatement treatments around the city. Additional treatments are planned for the remainder of the summer. Public Health officials are working to combat the threat of these troublesome insects and the dangerous infections they may carry, including West Nile Virus. West Nile Virus, which can cause illness in humans and horses, is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Many people who are infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms. However, about 20 percent of those who are infected experience symptoms similar to the flu, and a few people develop severe illness that may include neurological symptoms or even death.

There are things you can do in and around your own home to keep mosquitoes at bay. Dustin Boothe, Carson City Epidemiologist, strongly urges individuals to practice preventive measures. “Use repellent containing DEET and wear long sleeves, pants and socks when outside, especially during dawn and dusk. Also, remove any standing water from around your house and check to make sure your window screens fit properly so mosquitoes cannot enter your home.”

It’s important you take steps to protect yourself and your family from West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne infections:

Remove standing water, which provides a good habitat for mosquitoes, from around your property.

Eliminate piles of yard waste or debris where water can collect.

Repair or replace screens over windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

Repair leaky outdoor faucets to keep puddles from forming.

Treat swimming pools regularly to keep them from becoming mosquito habitat.

Any time you’re outdoors, but especially at dawn and dusk, cover up as much as possible with long pants and long sleeves.

Wear bug repellent to keep mosquitoes away.

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