BOSTON (CBS) – The summer season is here, bringing mosquitoes with it. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is urging citizens to take precautions to prevent bites and illness.
The DPH Hinton State Laboratory Institute has begun routine, annual testing of mosquito samples on June 20. Finding mosquitoes infected with WNV or EEE helps predict where and when people are most likely to get infected.
While colds and flu are more common during the winter, some infections are carried by mosquitoes and are therefore more likely to be encountered during the summer months.
If bitten by an infected mosquito, a human could contract West Nile virus (WNV) or eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
Not everyone infected with WNV will get sick, but those over the age of 50 are at greater risk for serious disease.
EEE is a rare but very serious disease that can affect anyone.
“Most human cases of WNV and EEE occur in late summer and early fall,” said Dr. Al DeMaria, State Epidemiologist and Medical Director of the Bureau of Infections Disease. “However, it’s not too early to get into good mosquito-bite prevention habits.”
The DPH offers the following tips to avoid being bitten:
- Use bug sprays that contain DEET, permethrin, IR3535 or picaridin (KBR 3023) to provide protection against mosquitoes. In addition, oil of lemon eucalyptus has been found to provide as much protection as low concentrations of DEET.
- Take special care to cover up the arms and legs of children playing outdoors. When you take a baby outdoors, cover the carriage or playpen with mosquito netting.
- Make sure screens are tightly attached to all your doors and windows, and fix any holes.
- Remove sources of standing water around your home. Mosquitoes will begin to breed in any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days. Check gutters ceramic pots, trash cans, recycling containers, old tires, wading pools, bird baths, etc.
For additional information on mosquito-borne illnesses throughout the summer, visit the DPH website.