‘Fight the Bite’ This Summer with these Prevention Tips

June 7, 2024

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week is June 16 through 22 and the Oswego County Health Department is taking the occasion to raise awareness about preventing mosquito-borne illnesses.

“While summer is a great time to be outdoors, it is also the season when mosquitoes are most active,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Vera Dunsmoor. “One mosquito bite may only result in a red, itchy mark, but bites can also cause serious diseases as well. It is important to be mindful of the risks and take action to ‘fight the bite’ whenever possible.”

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week is observed every year by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA). The event aims to educate the public about the significant impact mosquitoes can have on people’s daily lives and recognize the important service provided by mosquito control workers throughout the United States and across the world.

Usually considered a nuisance pest, mosquitoes can carry diseases such as the Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and West Nile virus (WNV). Occasionally, they can transmit these viruses to people and some animals, causing illness and sometimes death.

Although the chance of being infected with a disease through a mosquito bite is small, there are simple steps people can take to reduce their risk of being bitten. According to the AMCA, standing water, bare skin and dark clothing are three things that attract mosquitoes.

AMCA recommends people follow the three “D”s to keep mosquitoes away:

  • Drain: empty water containers at least once a week to prevent standing water that invites mosquitoes.
  • Dress: wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Defend: properly apply an EPA-registered repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR 3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.

Katelyn Parkhurst, director of the Oswego County Health Department’s Environmental Division, advised residents of other steps they can take to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

“Limit outdoor activity from dusk to dawn, when mosquitos are most active,” she said. “Make sure your windows and doors have screens, and repair or replace any that have rips, tears or holes.”

The health department also reminds residents of the importance of eliminating standing water and reducing mosquito breeding areas.  

“Since mosquitoes need water to live, removing water sources around the home is essential to preventing mosquitoes from multiplying,” said Oswego County Associate Public Health Sanitarian Chris Williams. “Clean out clogged gutters, change water in birdbaths twice a week, keep rain barrels covered with a screen or use mosquito dunks to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in these areas.”  

The health department and the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) have partnered to distribute free mosquito dunk kits to be used in certain circumstances. Each kit contains a larvicide and must be used according to the directions included.

Homeowners can pick up a kit at the front desk at the Oswego County Health Department, entrance B, 70 Bunner St., Oswego; at the OCSWCD’S front door, 3105 NYS Rte. 3, Fulton; or at their local municipal facility. For more information about the mosquito dunk kits, call 315-592-9663 or go to www.oswegosoilandwater.com.

The Oswego County Health Department conducts surveillance for mosquito-borne viruses that pose a risk to human health. Primary efforts focus on West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV), which are the most common mosquito-borne viruses and pose the greatest public health risk in New York State.

All activities are performed in cooperation with the New York State Department of Health. They include training staff on mosquito trapping, identification and testing; consulting with health care providers and veterinarians on mosquito-borne disease in humans and animals; providing community education; and analyzing surveillance information to guide local decision-making on prevention and control measures.

For more information about mosquito-borne illnesses or strategies to “Fight the Bite,” go to https://health.oswegocounty.com/ or call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547