The Osage County Health Department wants everyone to be prepared for mosquito season. This year with all the extra rain we have received and areas of standing water from the floods we should be aware and take precautions for protection.
There are 60 different types (species) of mosquitoes in Oklahoma and 230 species in the United States. The species differ in how they look. They also differ in how they act, such as how aggressive they are when they bite, where they breed, and when they are most active. Another important difference is whether the mosquitoes can live through the winter. Not all mosquitoes transmit diseases like West Nile Virus (WNV). However, over 39 species of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus including the Asian tiger mosquito.
West Nile virus is one of a group of viruses called arboviruses that are spread by mosquitoes and may cause illness in birds, animals, and humans. It is spread through the bite from a mosquito. West Nile virus is not spread person to person through casual contact such as touching or kissing. It takes about three to 15 days for both human and equine (horse, mule, or donkey) illness to occur after a bite from infected mosquito.
Most persons who are infected with West Nile virus will have no noticeable symptoms, or have an illness syndrome called “West Nile Fever” lasting two to 10 days. Common symptoms of West Nile Fever include headache, fever, and extreme muscle weakness, occasionally accompanied by vomiting or skin rashes. In some cases, West Nile virus infection will cause severe neurologic disease such as meningitis (swollen membranes in brain or spinal cord), paralysis (loss of muscle function), or encephalitis (swelling and inflammation of the brain). Symptoms of West Nile meningitis or encephalitis may be intense headache, dizziness, stiff neck, marked weakness, muscle tremors, disorientation, mental confusion, or convulsions. It is best to protect yourself from any mosquito bite to avoid the risk of West Nile virus.
Ways to prevent mosquito bites:
Wear insect repellant containing an active ingredient such as 10% to 30% DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to exposed skin and clothing when outdoors, especially during the evening and early morning hours. Always follow labeled directions for proper use.
Medical experts recommend applying repellant with low concentrations (10%) of DEET to infants over 2 months old.
Avoid doing outdoor activities when mosquitoes are active in the early morning and early evening.
Prevent items such as buckets and tarps from holding standing water.
If rainwater is collected, cover and seal containers when not collecting rain.
Empty your pet’s water bowl and refill daily.
Rinse, scrub, and refill birdbaths weekly.
Empty plastic wading pools weekly and store indoors when not in use.
Regularly maintain swimming pools and outdoor hot tubs.
Store boats covered or upside down.
For a water garden or ornamental body of water, use an environmentally safe product to kill the larvae, e.g. BTI, or stock with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
Regularly clean fallen leaves and debris from roof gutters.
Trim grass and weeds and dismantle brush to deprive mosquitoes of a habitat.
Repair or replace all broken or torn window and door screens.
Repair leaky lawn irrigation spouts.
For more information, call the Osage County Health Department at 918-287-3740.