Protect your family from mosquito threat

  • Published
  • By 71st Medical Operations Squadron staff
  • 71st Medical Operations Squadron staff
Whether you enjoy backyard barbecues, backpacking, cycling or just sitting by the pool, summer is the time to enjoy the outdoors. Nothing spoils outdoor fun faster than one very tiny creature -- the mosquito. Not only are mosquitoes a nuisance, but they can carry diseases that pose a threat to your family's health.

About 200 mosquito species can be found in the United States, with more than 2,500 species thriving worldwide, according to a study by Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Mosquitoes can live anywhere from salt marshes to stagnant water and they are often found in urban areas.

While all mosquitoes feed on nectar and other sugary sources, most female mosquitoes also require blood meals and some will fly for miles to find it. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide, moisture, color and movement to help locate their prey.

Many mosquitoes are especially active at dusk and dawn, with some species biting through the night. Some kinds of mosquitoes bite during the day, too, especially on cloudy days and in shady areas. There are a number of things you can do to help avoid mosquito bites and control the number of mosquitoes in and around your home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips:
· When possible, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.
· Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening, peak mosquito biting times.
· Use an insect repellent containing DEET to help reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
· Spray clothes with repellent containing permethrin or DEET for extra protection. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.
· Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors.
· Install or repair window and door screens so mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
· At least once or twice a week empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, outdoor toys and cans.
· Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water, such as old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums or bottles.
· Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.

The American Academy of Pediatrics generally recommends maximum DEET concentrations of 30 percent for children and infants older than 2 months of age. Lower concentrations are not as long lasting requiring more frequent reapplication.

Repellent products that do not contain DEET are not likely to offer the same degree of protection from mosquito bites as products containing DEET. According to the CDC, no serious illness has arisen from use of DEET when following manufacturer's recommendations. It is generally agreed DEET should not be applied more than once a day.

Recommendations for DEET use by pregnant women do not differ from those for non-pregnant adults.

The CDC suggests that when using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid the child's eyes and mouth and apply sparingly around the ears. Don't apply repellent to children's hands because they to put their hands in their mouths.

The Public Health office here will be conducting mosquito trapping from May through September on Vance AFB. Traps will be set up overnight in dim light and low lying water areas on base. Trapping is done to track the species of mosquito in the area and potential disease that can be transmitted via these species.

(Contributors to article: Lt. Col. Billye Hutchison, Tech Sgt. Tracy Cabatit and Airman 1st Class Alison Mullens)