Health Dept. offers tips for ‘bite-free zone’

Now that the weather is warming up, the Chester County Health Department encourages county residents to “make you and your home a bite-free zone,” reducing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases like the West Nile or Zika viruses.

Because mosquito-borne diseases are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, residents should use insect repellent and other personal protection and get rid of standing water on their property, according to a Health Department press release.

The Health Department also recommends:

  • Stay indoors at dawn and dusk during warmer months. Most types of mosquitoes bite most frequently during these times, although some types of mosquitoes bite most frequently during the daytime.
  • Dress in long sleeves, long pants, and socks. Choose clothing that is light colored and made of tightly woven material.
  • Use insect repellents containing active ingredients registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on skin and clothing. Products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. Follow manufacturer instructions when applying repellent.
  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing or spray your clothing with permethrin, which repels mosquitoes and lasts through 70-100 washings.

“Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water – water that does not flow,” Jeanne Casner, director of the Chester County Health Department, said in the release.  “Getting rid of standing water on your property can help decrease the mosquito population, your risk of getting a mosquito-borne disease, and may also help decrease the need for mosquito control sprays in your neighborhood.”

The Health Department also encourages the public to:

  • Cover or empty containers such as trashcans, wading pools, wheelbarrows, and pots.
  • Turn containers upside down when not in use so they don’t collect water.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers.
  • Get rid of old tires.
  • Change the water in birdbaths every three to five days.
  • Check storm drains, window wells, and underneath leaky faucets for standing water.
  • Clean roof gutters every year.
  • Aerate and/or stock ornamental ponds with fish.
  • Keep swimming pools clean and chlorinated. Make sure that water does not gather on swimming pool covers.
  • Treat a pool of standing water that cannot be drained with Bti products. Bti is a naturally-occurring bacterial product that kills mosquito larvae and is safe for people, pets, aquatic life, and plants. You can find these products at local lawn and garden supply stores.
  • Make sure that window and door screens fit tightly to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Run electric fans nearby when spending time outdoors. Mosquitoes have trouble flying in strong winds.
  • Replace outdoor lights with yellow "bug" lights, which tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights.

For more information on preventing mosquito-borne diseases, visit www.chesco.org/mosquitoes or call 610-344-6490. Chester County residents can sign up to receive notifications about future mosquito control sprays on the website.

 

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