Health department uses new approach for mosquitoes

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is taking a new approach to mosquitoes this year.

Instead of the daily mosquito spraying, the health department is going to focus on prevention and isolated treatments.

It has been surveying the county to find and treat large areas of standing water that can serve as prime locations for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

Where possible, the department will eliminate the standing water but large bodies of water can be treated to kill mosquito larvae with a chemical called a larvicide.

Workers with the health department plan to test large bodies of water weekly throughout mosquito season which can span from May until around the first frost.

“We are increasing activities to kill mosquito larvae in areas where standing water cannot be drained,” said Luke Mathis, Environmental Health and Preparedness team leader at LFCHD in a release.  “Targeting immature mosquitoes is a more effective control strategy as it stops mosquitoes from developing into adults that can feed on humans and transmit mosquito-borne diseases like Zika and West Nile.”

There were two cases of West Nile and one travel-related case of Zika in Fayette County last year according to the health department.

The health department won’t do the daily, county-wide sprays for adult mosquitoes.  Instead, mosquito traps will be placed in potential problem areas and if they are filled in a certain time, targeted spraying will occur.

“So we get more bang for our buck by targeting the areas that have high mosquito activity rather than just trying to spray broadly across routinely every area of the city,” said commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh.

The department sent these tips for residents:

  • Mosquito-proof your home and yard. Fix or install window and door screens.Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items such as tires, buckets, barrels and cans. Refresh the water in your pet’s water dishes and birdbaths at least every five to seven days.
  • Be aware of peak mosquito activity times. The twilight hours around dusk and dawn are times of peak mosquito activity. Use insect repellent when outdoors especially during peak activity times, including early morning hours. Look for EPA-labeled repellents 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 sleeves, long pants and socks outdoors. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent helps prevent bites.
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