As the numbers of West Nile Virus (WNV) cases in Oklahoma continue to climb, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) is advising residents to take extra precautions against the mosquito-borne illness by avoiding mosquito bites and reducing habitat where mosquitoes live and breed.
“One of the most effective measures people can take is looking around their homes to identify and get rid of any sources of standing, stagnant water where mosquito larvae can grow,” says OCCHD Public Health Protection Chief Phil Maytubby.
To reduce mosquito habitat:
- Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water
- Empty and refill birdbaths and your pet’s outdoor water bowl daily. Swimming pools and fishponds with circulating water generally are not a problem. “As long as the water is moving the larvae can’t grow,” Maytubby says. For standing water sources that can’t be drained, OCCHD recommends microbial larvicides that kill mosquito larvae before they emerge as adults. Use of larvicides can reduce or eliminate the need for ground or aerial application of pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes. Microbial larvicides are non-toxic to humans and do not pose risks to wildlife or the environment when used according to label directions. Larvicides may be purchased from hardware or home improvement stores.
- In addition to these measures, be sure to protect your home from invading mosquitos by keeping window and door screens in good repair. And, Maytubby stresses, always remember the four Ds:
- Dusk to dawn – Mosquitoes that carry WNV are most active during these hours, so if you must go outside, always take precautions.
- Dress – Wear long sleeves with cuffs and long pants wherever mosquitoes are likely to be biting. Tuck your pants into your socks.
- DEET – Use an insect repellant containing DEET on any exposed skin.
- Drainage – Check regularly around your home for any water accumulation that could provide mosquito breeding grounds. For pools, hot tubs or water features, OCCHD recommends that residents “cover, drain or maintain” these water sources to eliminate mosquito habitat.
Residents of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County may also report sources of stagnant water outside their own property. To file a complaint about mosquito habitat, visit http://www.occhd.org/community/foodprotection/complaintform or call the OCCHD Consumer Protection division at 425-4347, 425-4348, or 425-4319.
For additional information on WNV visit www.occhd.org