Mosquito-borne illnesses can be serious!
If you live in Florida, you are no stranger to mosquitoes. These pests seem to be everywhere both day and night. Not only do their bites make you itch, but they can be potentially dangerous to your health. This season, Floridians are being encouraged to take all the precautions they can to help minimize the risk of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses from taking hold.
The Florida Department of Health, in its brochure Mosquito Bite Protection in Florida, urges everyone to take these simple precautions. You can help not only yourself but also others in your community by taking steps to reduce the mosquito population.
1. When you are outside, use insect repellent.
- Make sure the insect repellent is EPA-registered, and be sure to follow the directions on the packaging.
- The repellent should contain an active ingredient such as DEET, picaridin, bayrepel and icaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535.
- If you are using sunscreen too, put on the sunscreen first, and then the insect repellent.
- Do not spray insect repellent on your face. Spray it first into your hands, then apply it to your face.
- If your clothing is thin, treat the clothing with permethrin.
2. If you have children, use extra caution.
- Help children apply insect repellent carefully, according to the instructions.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two months (instead, cover their arms and legs).
- Use mosquito netting to cover cribs, strollers, and carriers.
- Do not put repellent on a child’s hands (they often put their hands in their mouths).
3. Cover up when possible
Even though it’s hot outside, wearing long sleeves can help protect you against mosquitoes. Wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants treated with permethrin can help too, since mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.
4. Keep mosquitoes out of your home
These pesky insects like to come into your home too! Try to keep them out by:
- Installing screens—check to make sure there are no holes!
- Opening and closing your doors quickly, to allow less time for them to come in
5. Prevent mosquitoes from breeding
Mosquitoes need standing (still) water to breed, so it’s important to try to remove as many of their breeding grounds as possible. Even just a tiny amount of water in an old discarded bottle cap is enough space for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Look around your property and your neighborhood, and try to remove or drain any trouble areas. Look for any of the following types of materials that may be retaining water. Dump them out at least once a week if not more.
- Trash can lids
- Pet dishes
- Bird baths
- Kids toys left outside
- Discarded bottles
- Pool or boat covers
6. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, speak to your doctor.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to birth defects. If you are pregnant or if you want to get pregnant, you and your partner should talk with your doctor about the Zika virus. In addition to your doctor’s advice, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website to learn more about the Zika virus. The CDC recommends against traveling to any areas where the Zika virus is spreading and provides important advice for people living in those areas.
By following the advice of the Florida Department of Health and the CDC, you can take steps toward preventing mosquito bites and preventing mosquitoes from breeding. There is no quick fix to the problem, but by following good mosquito control practices, we can all work together to minimize the mosquito population in our communities.
The Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, Florida shares health-related tips and news in our weekly blog. Learn more about getting trained as a practical nurse, nursing assistant, or home health aide at Harris Casel!