OSWEGO – With the summer now in full swing, the Oswego County Health Department is reminding people to protect themselves from mosquito bites to guard against diseases such as Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus.
“Our surveillance team is in high gear, monitoring mosquito activity in the area,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “These viral infections can cause serious illness such as severe headache, high fever, disorientation, seizures, brain swelling or, in some cases, death.”
Huang explained that the best defense people have from EEE or West Nile is to use personal protection measures to guard against mosquito bites.
“This means using insect repellent properly, wearing protecting clothing, limiting outdoor exposure when and where mosquitoes are most active, and minimizing their populations around your house and property,” said Huang.
Insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are effective but should be used with care.
Repellents containing permethrin are meant for clothing and gear and should not be applied directly to the skin.
Also, repellents containing DEET should not be applied to skin under clothing.
Read the product label and use according to package instructions.
Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
“We understand that keeping away from the outdoors is not always practical. If you have to be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks as weather permits,” said Huang.
Other precautions people can take to minimize mosquito populations are to repair or replace all window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, and reduce or eliminate all standing water.
These preventative measures include:
• Dispose of old tires. Used tires are a significant mosquito breeding site and are accepted at Oswego County transfer stations. There is a minimum $10 scale fee for tires. Contact the Oswego County Solid Waste Department at 591-9200 for details.
• Empty or dispose of pails, cans, flower pots, or similar water-holding containers.
• Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
• Clear roof gutters and be sure they drain properly.
• Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs and drain pool covers.
• Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.
• Remove leaf debris from yards and gardens and clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.
• Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
For more information about protecting your family against mosquitoes, call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547, or visit the New York State Department of Health website at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2731/