May is a wonderful month that brings with it rising temperatures, blooming flowers and the start of summer. It also brings about the start of mosquito season. While no one ever looks forward to the return of these bloodsucking pests, many people are more worried than usual about mosquito season this year because of the Zika virus. There is a lot of confusion about this disease and exactly how harmful it can be. We wanted to take the time today to explain what the Zika virus is, as well as pass along some tips for mosquito prevention and insect repellent safety.
The Zika Virus
The Zika virus disease is caused by the bite of certain species of mosquito, specifically the Aedes species of mosquito, that are infected with the Zika virus. The symptoms of the disease include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. These are often very mild and many people who contract the Zika virus do not realize they have it. It rarely requires hospitalization and many people with the disease believe they have a cold or a mild flu.
However, the Zika virus presents an increased risk for women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant. In some cases, contracting the Zika virus disease during pregnancy has been linked to serious birth defects, particularly microcephaly. It has also been linked to other severe brain birth defects in infants, though not as often as microcephaly.
Currently, Oklahoma has a “moderate” risk of Zika virus. However, this can change over time so it is best to be prepared and knowledgeable. There is currently no vaccine to prevent against the Zika virus, so the best way to guard against the virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
Mosquito and Zika Virus Prevention
Mosquitoes only need about ½ an inch of standing water to be able to breed. However, there are easy things you can do to make sure your home doesn’t create a habitat for these pests:
- Prevent mosquito breeding habitats by dumping out standing water around your home in gutters, grill covers, buckets, tarps, trash cans and any other collection places. Make sure to check this periodically and after any rain storms.
- If you have any birdbaths, fountains, baby pools, rain barrels, or potted plants with water saucers, make sure to dump out and replace these once a week.
- Make sure any pools or ponds on your property are properly treated and are constantly circulated to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Patch up holes in screen doors and window screens and keep doors and windows closed and air conditioning on when possible to discourage mosquitoes from coming inside.
- When possible, stay inside in a place with air conditioning, door screens and window screens to avoid coming into contact with mosquitos.
- When you do go outside, wear long sleeves, long pants and close-toed shoes. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
- Apply an EPA registered insect repellent over your clothing and exposed skin (never under your clothing) according to the direction on the product. Reapply as directed on label.
- To apply mosquito repellant to your face, spray product into your hands and pat onto face. Do not spray directly onto face.
- Always help young children to apply their insect repellent.
- The mosquito that spreads the Zika virus primarily bites during the day, but make sure to take precautions to guard against mosquitoes at all times of day.
We hope these tips help keep you mosquito free and help keep you and your family safe all summer long! If you’re having problems with pests in and around your home, or just want to talk to a professional about what your options are, give us a call or visit our website to get started on your free, no-obligation evaluation. We’ll create a custom pest control plan to get rid of all your pest problems in no time! You can also call our trained pest control experts at any time with questions about pest control methods or pest prevention techniques. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for more pest prevention tips and tricks.