It is soon to be peak mosquito season again in Louisiana and with all of the other health concerns at this time, it is important that we do all that we can to prevent mosquito related illnesses.
One of the leading causes of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States is West Nile. West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that in extreme cases cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or death. However, human symptoms are generally mild and often mimic the flu. Only about one in every 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito will become severely ill. The risk of this illness becoming severe is highest for people 50+ years old. When someone is infected with West Nile virus, they will typically have one of three outcomes: (1) asymptomatic (no symptoms), (2) West Nile fever in about 20% of the people, or (3) West Nile neuroinvasive disease, the severe form of the disease. There is no treatment for West Nile virus infection. People with West Nile fever recover on their own, though symptoms can be relieved through various treatments (e.g. medication for headache and body aches, etc.). People with West Nile meningitis often need hospitalization. Care may involve nursing IV fluids, respiratory support and prevention of secondary infections.
The West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito and cannot be spread from person-to-person. When a mosquito bites an infected bird, the mosquito becomes infected. Once a mosquito is infected, it may transmit the virus to people or animals by biting them.
The primary carrier of West Nile virus is the southern house mosquito. This mosquito species breeds in polluted water commonly found in roadside ditches that receive effluent from residential filter beds and septic tanks. There are approximately 300 miles of roadside septic ditches in St. Tammany Parish.
So what can we do to reduce our risk of West Nile Virus?:
1.) Eliminate mosquito breeding. The key to reducing mosquito populations is to deny them a place to breed. Some mosquito species capable of transmitting West Nile virus are able to breed in small amounts of water commonly found in artificial containers. They prefer to breed in polluted water so ensuring that your sewage system (including the aerator or septic tank) is properly maintained is vital.
2.) Insect Repellant. Apply insect repellant containing DEET to exposed skin when going outdoors in mosquito prone areas. Be sure to follow the directions for use on the label. The more DEET a repellent contains, the longer time it can protect you from mosquito bites.
3.) Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot go indoors.
4.) Wear long pants and long sleeves in mosquito prone areas.
5.) Stay inside from Dusk until Dawn. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak mosquito biting times for many species of mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning – or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
For more information on mosquitoes and mosquito borne-illnesses please visit St. Tammany Mosquito Abatement., opens a new window
You can get more information on West Nile here, opens a new window.
If you are interested in information on the history of mosquito borne-illnesses and St. Tammany Parish, you can find that here., opens a new window
Please enjoy this book list about mosquitoes, and the history of mosquito borne-illnesses in Louisiana.
This list has information about mosquitoes, and the history of mosquito borne-illnesses in Louisiana.