Fight the Bite of Mosquito’s

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Knox County is seeing hot weather, cooler weather, and rain sometimes all in the same day right now. That’s why the Knox County Health Department is asking for the public’s assistance to help reduce the risk from the serious diseases mosquitoes can carry. One of the ways residents can help is with the collection of dead birds to test for West Nile Virus (WNV). Each summer, the health department collects dead birds and mosquitoes around Knox County to determine the prevalence of WNV in the county. Trapping and bird collection happens now through October 15th. The health department will be collecting a limited number of dead birds for testing.

The mosquito traps will be monitored for West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. If you come across a black box with a white net, then you have come across the mosquito traps used for West Nile Virus testing. Please do not disturb them.

West Nile Virus is spread to people and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes first become exposed to the virus when they feed on birds that are infected with WNV. Once the mosquito is infected, it may transmit the virus to people or other animals when it bites them. Many birds can be infected with WNV, but crows and blue jays are most likely to die from the infection. Horses, too, are prone to severe WNV infection.

Here are some simple precautions you can take to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and protect yourself from being bitten. Precautions include the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report.

  • REDUCE exposure – avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
    • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
    • Avoid places and times when mosquitoes bite, before and after sunset and again just before dawn.
    • Wear long sleeves and pants when in wooded areas. Keep pant legs tucked into boots or socks.
    • Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, pet’s water bowl, old tires, and any other receptacles.
  • REPEL – when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
  • REPORT – report locations where you see stagnant water for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoesThe Health Department may be able to add larvicide to the water, which may kill any mosquito eggs.

The Knox County Health Department conducts active surveillance for West Nile Virus through mosquito trapping and collection of dead birds. If a dead bird is found between now and October 15th and appears to have died of natural causes and has no sign of decomposition, residents should report the sighting to the Health Department Monday thru Friday, 8 am to 4 pm at 309-344-2224; for more information regarding West Nile Virus, please call the Knox County Health Department or visit our website at www.knoxcountyhealth.org.

***Courtesy of the Knox County Health Department***

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