Shiawassee County residents can stay healthy by following these steps to avoid mosquito bites, especially prior to outdoor activities:
• Apply insect repellants that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
• Children under 2 months old should not use repellant but rather be covered in clothing that covers arms, legs; strollers and baby carriers should be covered with mosquito netting.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Also apply insect repellant to clothing to help prevent bites.
• Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitos outside.
• Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires, or similar sites where mosquitos may lay eggs.
• Use nets and/or fans over outside eating areas.
People can be infected with EEE, California Group encephalitis viruses, and West Nile virus (WNV) from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses. Infections can occur even when the mosquito bite numbers are low. The diseases can affect anyone, however persons younger than 15 and over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of severe illness following infection.
Signs of EEE and WNV include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and join aches. Symptoms of California encephalitis virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and lethargy. The diseases can develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headaches, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis.
Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit a health care provider or emergency room. There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people.
Further information about mosquito-borne disease is available here or on the Shiawassee County Health Department website.