You don’t need to look past your full bottle of sunscreen to know that it has been a very wet and rainy summer. While few of us are celebrating the near- record rainfall, it’s been a prime season for mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and love to do so around your home – in recycle bins, the top of pool covers, bird baths and anywhere else a little bit of water can pool. Certain types of infected mosquitoes, especially the northern house mosquito, can spread the West Nile virus (WNV) when biting humans. Most people will not develop any symptoms if infected with WNV, but some may experience flu-like symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
- Flu-like symptoms, which can include, fever, frontal headache, muscle aches and occasionally a skin rash;
- Additional symptoms such as neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation and coma.
After a rainfall, help stop mosquitoes from breeding – and lower the risk of WNV – by draining any standing water around your house, including even small amounts of water in small containers.
- Empty water from flower pots, pet dishes, pool covers, buckets and barrels
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use
- Clean clogged eavestroughs regularly
- Remove unused items, such as tires that can collect water
- Change the water in wading pools, bird baths, pet bowls at least once a week
- Cover all access points to rain barrels with tight-fitting screens
- Use an aerator in garden ponds to keep surface water moving; this will only work if all parts of the water move
- Consider stocking your garden pond with fish that eat mosquito larvae
Prevent mosquito bites:
- Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks
- Wear light-coloured clothing; mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers Stay indoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active and avoid shady, bushy or wooded areas at any time
- Screen all windows and doors
- Use an insect repellent that has DEET or icaridin. Always read and follow label directions
- Seek medical attention if you develop symptoms of WNV
To learn more about Ottawa Public Health’s WNV prevention program, visit www.OttawaPublicHealth.ca or call OPH at 613-580-6744.