Eastern Shore Residents Can Reduce Risk of Mosquito Borne Disease
(ACCOMAC, Va.)— The Eastern Shore Health District asks the community to take measures now that will help control the mosquito population as temperatures warm up after heavy rains and help reduce the spread of mosquito borne diseases like West Nile, Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan Encephalitis, Chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika Virus.
The Aedes albopictus (“Asian Tiger”) mosquitoes which can transmit Zika, Chikungunya, and Dengue Fever viruses, have adapted very well to human habitats, by being able to lay eggs that survive long periods without water and that can hatch and grow into larvae after a rain shower in a container as small as a bottle cap. Differing greatly in habitat from the more familiar marsh mosquitos that thrive near marshes in tidal zones, the Asian Tiger mosquitos, with recognizable white striped legs, feeds during daylight hours when people are most likely to be outside, versus the marsh mosquitoes that primarily feed at dusk.
There are many things that families on the Eastern Shore of Virginia can do to protect themselves from mosquitos on their own property and in their community:
- Reduce mosquito breeding grounds by eliminating standing water on your property.
- Keep gutters and down spouts clean.
- Eliminate standing water areas with better grading and/or drainage. Where this is a challenge, use mosquito dunks that are available at most hardware stores.
- Clean up all trash on your property, especially old tires.
- Keep your outdoor trash covered at all times.
- Empty water from flower trays, buckets, boat covers, tarps, flat roofs and all containers where water collects on your property after each rainfall.
- At least once per week clean out bird baths and wading pool.
- Eliminate standing water on tarps and flat roofs after each rain shower.
- Be a good neighbor
- Assist your elderly or disabled neighbors with yard clean up steps mentioned above.
- Once a week pick up trash on your road where you live to keep ditches draining well.
- Notify the county when your neighborhood experiences flooding after downfalls. Counties have equipment to improve storm drainage issues.
- Plant mosquito repelling plants in your flower and vegetable gardens and around your doorsteps. Marigolds, Catnip, Lemongrass, Lemon Thyme, Citronella Grass, Cedars, Mint, Rosemary, Lavender, Clove, and others are naturally fragrant mosquito repellents.
- Grow plants that you can use in homemade natural sprays such as Basil, Bee Balm, Garlic, Lemon Balm, Tea Tree Oil and others.
- Give mosquito repelling plants and seeds as gifts to friends and family to plant in the garden or yard this year instead of cut flowers (or in addition to cut flowers).
- Make your property attractive to mosquito eating predators, like Purple Martins, swallows, migratory song birds, waterfowl, bats, dragon flies, toads, turtles and fish:
- Put up bird and bat houses on your property.
- Add fish to ponds on your property.
- Refrain from spraying pesticides that are harmful to mosquito predators.
- When outdoors in mosquito habitats, use personal protection.
- Wear long loose light colored clothing.
- Use personal repellents:
- Repellent products containing DEET and Picaridin typically provide longer lasting protection than others.
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant-based repellent, provides protection similar to lower concentrations of DEET.
- Permethrin can be used to treat clothes or tents but is not recommended to be used directly on the skin. Permethrin kills mosquitos, ticks, and flies on contact.
For more information about mosquito borne diseases and mosquito control, you can visit the Virginia Department of Health website here https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/DEE/Vectorborne/.
For more information about West Nile Fever, Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, and Zika and other viruses that cause disease in people, please find the most up to date information at the Centers for Disease Control. http://www.cdc.gov/