August – the start of school, hot, sunny days and, of course, mosquitoes.
Highland County Health Department Commissioner Jared Warner described the possible risks of mosquitoes, saying that they are “the hosts of many illnesses that they transfer to humans through bites.”
He added that mosquitoes bite because they “like the chemicals that we exhale, sweat, or wear on our bodies.”
And this year, the Zika virus has caused mosquitoes to get more and more attention. According to Warner, Zika is “a new disease for most of the world and is bringing a lot of attention to mosquito-borne diseases.”
He added, “The Zika Virus can be spread from mosquito to human, a pregnant woman to her unborn child, and a male to his sexual partners. One in five people infected by Zika develop the symptoms, which are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.”
Warner said that while there have been Zika cases in Ohio, none of those have been caused by mosquitoes. Thirty were related to travel and one was sexually transmitted.
And while the Zika virus has not been connected to local mosquitoes, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) outlines four “mosquito-borne diseases that may occur locally in Ohio.” Those include the West Nile virus, the Eastern equine encephalitis virus, the La Crosse virus and the St. Louis encephalitis virus.
The ODH adds, however, that “only a few of the 59 species of mosquitoes in Ohio can transmit disease.” Most, the ODH states, “are merely a nuisance.”
According to Warner, there are several ways to manage those nuisances. One major way is to remove standing water. According to Warner, “By draining stagnant water, such as unused pools, birdbaths, and old tires, you eliminate breeding sites and help reduce mosquito populations around your home.”
The health department also suggests staying inside at dawn and dusk, which are peak mosquito feeding times. In addition, bites can be avoided by staying clear of areas that are shaded, humid or that don’t have a breeze. Such areas, as well as ones with tall grasses and weeds, are infestation areas.
Finally, wearing long sleeves and pants that are light-colored and loose fitting can help reduce mosquito bites, as can using appropriate repellents, such as those containing DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.