With summertime in full swing, 'tis the season for mosquitoes.
Mosquito Awareness Week is next week, June 22-28 and the Bryan County Health Department and Coastal Health District want residents to protect themselves against the possibility of mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquitoes can carry potentially dangerous viruses such as the West Nile Virus and the Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus. Both diseases are transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes and can cause serious illness, the Coastal Health District said.
"All mosquito bites may not require medical attention; however, in the event that symptoms develop such as a persistent headache, fever, weakness, fatigue, or body aches, a physician or healthcare provider should be consulted," said Robert Thornton, epidemiologist at the Coastal Health District.
Many people who become infected with the West Nile Virus will have no symptoms, but the Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus is the more serious of mosquito-borne diseases. While human infection is rare, about 35 percent of those who develop clinical symptoms of EEEV will die and another 35 percent will have neurological deficits. Symptoms range from mild flu-like illness to encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, coma and death.
There are five easy precautions residents can keep in mind to help prevent exposure to mosquitoes. JoAnne Burnsed, nurse manager at the Bryan County Health Department urges residents to follow the five "Ds" of prevention:
Dusk – Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus usually bite at dusk and dawn.
Dawn – Avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn if possible. If you must be outside, be sure to protect yourself from bites.
Dress – Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water because they can be excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
- by Jessica Holthaus