DEALING WITH Mosquitos
Photo courtesy of CDC/ James Gathany
Enjoying the great outdoors in Kitsap County can mean dealing with mosquitoes! Mosquitoes aren't just a nuisance, disease can be spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. More than 21 different mosquito species have been identified in Kitsap County, and 13 of these species are vectors for diseases, such as West Nile Virus (WNV). However, it is important to note that there has never been a documented case of WNV in Kitsap County.
Nonetheless, the best way to protect against mosquito-borne disease is to prevent mosquito bites. You can reduce your risk by taking the following steps:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Stay indoors from dusk to dawn, if possible, when mosquitoes are the most active and looking for a blood meal.
- Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, and a hat when mosquitoes are biting or when going into mosquito-infested areas, such as wetlands or woods.
- Use mosquito repellent. Read the label and carefully follow instructions. Take special care when using repellent on children.
- Make sure windows and doors are "bug tight" by installing screens. Repair or replace any torn or poor-fitting screens.
Don't Give Mosquito a Home! Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so eliminate standing water wherever possible
- Empty anything that holds standing water such as old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, bottles and cans. Recycle unused containers.
- Change water in your birdbaths, fountains, wading pools and animal troughs at least twice week.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly; clean clogged gutters.
- Fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinklers.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers tips on mosquito control, and The Environmental Protection Agency also has helpful information on mosquito control, including information on how to use mosquito repellents safely.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
WNV can be a serious illness for humans, horses, many species of birds, and other animals. Although the risk of getting WNV is very low, anyone can become infected. People are usually infected via the bite of an infected mosquito. Although WNV-infected mosquitos have never been found in Kitsap County, the virus has been detected in humans, mosquitoes, horses, and birds in Washington state—primarily in Eastern Washington. It is difficult to predict how bad the WNV season may be and whether it will spread further west.
Zika virus disease (Zika) is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Only 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will have any symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The illness is usually mild and lasts a few days to a week
Washington State does not have the type of mosquitoes (Aedes aegyptiand Aedes albopictus) that are known to carry Zika virus. There is currently no risk for local transmission through mosquitoes. However, people who travel to and from areas where Zika is spreading can return with Zika illness. People who have returned from Zika-affected areas that are pregnant or having symptoms of Zika illness should contact their healthcare provider.
Lyme disease is NOT transmitted from mosquitoes. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. More information is available from the WSDOH and CDC.