Health Dept.: Take precautions against mosquito bites this holiday weekend and beyond

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – On Mosquito Control Awareness Week, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is reminding residents that the holiday weekend is the perfect time to look in and around your home for ways to control mosquitoes that can carry viruses.

Independence Day observances are a particularly important time to keep mosquito control in mind, says the health department, as the holiday is centered on so many outside activities, especially during dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Though Zika virus isn’t known to be circulating among mosquitoes in Lexington or elsewhere in the continental United States, the potential exists for mosquito populations here to become infected as the affected area grows. Other viruses, such as West Nile virus, can be currently spread by the bite of an infected mosquito in Kentucky.

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The following steps can help you avoid being bitten by mosquitoes:

  • Control mosquitoes inside your home. Keep mosquitoes from getting in by making sure you have screens installed on your windows and doors, and fix any holes in them. Keeping windows and doors shut and using air conditioning when possible will help keep mosquitoes out. Mosquitoes lay their eggs near water. Those that get into your home will look for vases or flower pot saucers with water to lay their eggs on. To eliminate these areas and prevent eggs from hatching, once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, or throw out any items that hold water.
  • Control mosquitoes outside your home. Empty areas of standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Once a week, you should empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, or trash containers. For areas of standing water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or emptied, like backyard ponds, use larvicides to kill young mosquitoes.
  • Be aware of peak mosquito activity times. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak mosquito active times, though some mosquitoes are day biters. Use insect repellent when outdoors especially during peak activity times, including early morning hours. Look for EPA-labeled repellants containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin (KBR3023) or oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol). Apply repellent according to label instructions. When weather permits, wear long sleeved light-colored clothing, long pants and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent helps prevent bites.

For more information about the health department’s mosquito control program, please visit www.lexingtonhealthdepartment.org. To report a standing water problem in your neighborhood, please call the Division of Environmental Health and Protection at (859) 231-9791.