Preventing mosquito bites not only enhances your enjoyment of outdoor activities, but can also protect you from exposure to Zika and all mosquito-borne illnesses.
The Florida Department of Health reminds residents and visitors that it is important to “drain and cover” during the coming months as rain becomes a daily occurrence in some areas.
The department encourages everyone to take simple precautions to protect themselves and their neighbors from mosquito-borne illnesses t have received increased attention in recent years in Florida.
In addition to Zika, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus have been present in mosquitoes in Florida in recent years.
According to the Florida Arbovirus Surveillance report for April 28 through May 4, Bay, Calhoun, and Walton counties are currently under a mosquito-borne illness advisory. One sentinel chicken tested positive for antibodies to EEEV this week in Citrus County.
No mosquito pools tested positive for EEEV, WNV, or Zika during the reporting week. As of May 4, there are no areas of ongoing, active Zika transmission in Florida.
To protect against mosquitoes, the department urges the public to “drain and cover:”
Drain standing water:
• Drain water from garbage cans, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected
• Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used
• Empty and clean birdbaths and pets’ water bowls at least once or twice a week
• Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water
• Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
Cover your skin with:
• Clothing — If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up; wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves
• Repellent — Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label.
Repellents with 10 to 30 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective.
Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
Cover doors and windows with screens.
Keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.
Following are some additional tips on eliminating mosquito breeding sites:
• Clean out troughs and gutters
• Remove old tires or drill holes in those used in playgrounds to drain
• Turn over or remove empty plastic pots
• Pick up all beverage containers and cups
• Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water
• Replace water in birdbaths and pet or other animal feeding dishes at least once a week
• Change water in plant trays, including hanging plants, at least once a week
• Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.
Information provided by The Florida Department of Health.