Get ready for mosquito season

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jose Devora
  • 55th Aerospace Medical Squadron
Mosquito season is here and not only are mosquitoes a nuisance, they can also pose a potential health risk to people and animals by causing West Nile and many other harmful viruses.

Individuals can reduce risks by protecting themselves from mosquito bites and reducing mosquito breeding grounds around the home. Here are several ways people can reduce risks:

Insect repellents should be used to help protect exposed skin. Using an insect repellent with an Environmental Protection Agency-approved active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus is recommended. Always follow the directions on the package for safe and effective use.

Precautions when using insect repellents:
- Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label).
- Do not apply repellents under clothing.
- Never use repellents on cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- Do not apply directly to the eyes or the mouth, and apply sparingly around the ears.
- When using sprays, do not spray directly on face. Instead, spray on hands first and then apply to face.
- Do not allow children to handle the repellents. When using on children, apply it to your hands first and then put it on the child. It is not recommended to apply to children's hands.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application and saturation are generally unnecessary. If insects do not respond to initial application, apply more.
- After returning indoors, be sure to wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly during the day or for consecutive days. Wash treated clothes before wearing them again (This precaution may vary with different repellents--check the product label).
- If a rash or reaction occurs, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If required to visit a doctor, take the repellant to the appointment.
Avoiding mosquito bites and breeding areas:
- Avoid mosquito breeding areas such as mud lands, swamps and deep-wooded areas. If planning to go out after sunset, wear a long-sleeve shirt and full-length pants.
- To reduce the numbers of mosquitoes in outdoor areas, drain sources of standing water around the home. This reduces the number of areas mosquitoes can lay their eggs to breed.
- At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, cans and other objects.
- Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out to eliminate standing water.
- Remove discarded tires and other items that could collect water.
- Be sure to check for containers or trash that can hold water in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your house.

With these simple and effective steps, people can stay protected from mosquito bites and the potential viruses they carry.