Thursday, August 30, 2012

Avoid Mosquitoes to Avoid WNV

Mosquitoes may seem to be ever-present in some yards, but in others, the return of actual rainfall means the return of great swarms of the biting pests. This summer, those biting pests have already transmitted West Nile Virus to three individuals in Cobb County, according to a news release of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

To reduce the risk of of contracting West Nile Virus (WNV), people are being encouraged by the DPH to observe the "Five Ds of WNV prevention":

Dusk - Mosquitoes carrying WNV usually bite at dusk and dawn. Staying indoors at these times can help people avoid infection.

Dawn - People who must be outside at dawn (or at dusk) should protect themselves from mosquito bites as much as possible.

Dress - Loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and long pants reduce the amount of skin that mosquitoes can get to.

DEET - Exposed skin should be covered with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective repellent for mosquitoes.

Drain - Any containers holding standing water should be emptied, since these can become breeding spots for virus-carrying mosquitoes.

WNV can be reliably diagnosed only through a lab test, but, according to the DPH, "symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito."

While mosquitoes are the source for the spread of this particular virus, plenty of other pests in the yard can cause irritating bites. If you are unsure about the identity of a biting insect, the UGA publication "Stinging and Biting Pests" provides helpful information to help you identify and control your yard's pests. If you are unsure of an insect's identity, it can be brought to the Cobb County Extension office for identification.