We've all heard it: the sickly sweet hum in your ear in the still, sticky air of summer. It usually means a week's worth of scratching at bug bites is a reality, just a few moments away.
"Most of the mosquitos that are flying around right now, they're more nuisance-type mosquitos. They'll bite you, but they don't usually cause disease," Tyler Brock, Deputy Director of Siouxland District Health said.
But mosquitos, and the equally repulsive ticks, can be more than just an inconvenience. "There's several different diseases that can be caused by those types of vectors," Brock said.
Good news, for now: The mosquitos that carry diseases, like West Nile, don't usually come until the later part of the summer, and most of the ticks in Siouxland aren't the type to carry disease. However, these diseases are still a reality, and hard to treat. "You don't look for mosquito-borne diseases just because you got a mosquito bite. Most of these things you're not going to know one mosquito from the next," Brock said.
Most mosquito diseases never get diagnosed. West Nile Virus has a lot of symptoms that are just like the flu.
That's why prevention is the most important thing.
While you may be tempted to dump a whole can of DEET-containing mosquito repellent all over yourself, Brock says that's not necessarily your best bet. "They don't need to be heavily applied in huge coats on your skin, but using an insect repellant with DEET is a very good way when you're going to be wearing shorts and short sleeves," Brock said.
Long pants and a coat of mosquito repellent are your best option. Staying away from standing water, especially at the peak mosquito times of dawn and dusk, is the best ways to protect yourself.
When you're out and about, there's not a whole lot you can do about stagnant water like this. But when it comes to protecting your home and your backyard from mosquitos, there's a lot that you can do. "You can dump out your bird baths, if there's children's toys that are sitting in the yard that water sits in, dump that stuff out. If there's places where water kind of sits in low spots, get that out of there," Brock said.
So you can prevent the problem, before it hatches.
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