From the Harford County Health Department:
On July 17, 2014, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a news release indicating that it has begun tracking West Nile virus (WNV) and other diseases such as chikungunya and dengue viruses transmitted by mosquitoes for the 2014 season. The Harford County Health Department cautions the public to take appropriate measures to reduce their risk of infection. If you want to secure your home, check out Team Veterans Pest Control website and request an appointment.
Individuals can reduce their risk of being infected with WNV by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites. They should also contact a residential pest control company to treat their homes and outdoors. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a mild form of the illness referred to as West Nile fever, Symptoms may last a few days or as long as several weeks.
Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness with symptoms such as high fever, neck stiffness and neck pain, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and effects on the nervous system may be permanent. Although most people are at low risk for disease, people 50 years of age and older have the highest risk of developing severe illness if infected. Also, people who spend a lot of time outdoors have a greater risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The symptoms of chikungunya infection resemble those of dengue, another serious mosquito-borne infection that is common throughout the Caribbean islands. This infection is not transmittable from human to human but occurs when mosquitos that become infected after feeding on infected people, feed on humans. Persons experiencing symptoms including fever, joint pains, headache, muscle pains, or rash should seek medical care, while health care providers should be on the alert for possible cases.
In addition, the Asian Tiger Mosquito an invasive pest from Asia, that behaves differently from native mosquitoes, has become more of a problem in the U.S, over the past few years. Tigers are more aggressive, will follow people into their homes and come out during the day.
“Prevention is key and there are actions individuals can take to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne infection,” states Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly. “In addition to personal protection, prevention requires attention to your surroundings.” She encourages the public to “help reduce the number of mosquitoes in outdoor areas where they work or play by draining any sources of standing water, even small ones, where mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.” Specifically, she recommends:
• At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, cans, or from any other place where you find standing water.
• Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out if necessary.
• Look for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.
• Fix dripping faucets.
• Aerate ornamental pools and water gardens or stock with fish and use a circulating filter system.
• Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
“Just as importantly,” continues Ms. Kelly, “there are measures people can take to effectively protect themselves from mosquito bites. These include avoiding areas of high mosquito activity as well as avoiding unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats when concerned about mosquito exposure and use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions. Also be sure to place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.”
The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has posted a new Web page this season dedicated to helping residents identify what kind of mosquitoes they have and providing tips for reducing breeding grounds for Tiger Mosquitoes. See: http://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/Pages/avoid_asian_tiger_mosquitoes.aspx.
For more information on the West Nile virus, visit Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com, contact the Health Department at 410-612-1781, visit the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/west-nile.aspx, or the National Centers for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.