It’s Mosquito Season – Learn How to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus

The City of Gahanna has contracted with Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) for mosquito control. FCPH uses an Integrated Pest Management approach with a public health focus to reduce and control disease carrying mosquitoes. Various tools and techniques are utilized throughout the mosquito season to help control the mosquito population. These include:

  • Larviciding areas of stagnant water and stormwater catch basins to prevent mosquitoes from hatching in these prime breeding sites.
  • Surveillance of adult mosquito populations by setting traps weekly throughout the county.
  • Testing of adult mosquitoes for the presence of disease.
  • Adulticiding (spraying) using Ultra Low Volume (ULV) truck-mounted equipment to treat residential areas to reduce adult mosquito populations.
  • Implementing a variety of educational materials and awareness approaches.

Franklin County Public Health uses the data they collect from these methods along with historical data about mosquito breeding locations, areas that traditionally have high adult mosquito populations and the frequency and distribution of mosquito-borne diseases throughout Franklin County to concentrate and focus their efforts. They also rely on residents to report areas that they suspect may be mosquito breeding areas and/or when there is an increase in adult mosquito activity.

TESTING AND SPRAYING
Mosquitoes are an all too familiar summer nuisance. They are not only annoying, but also present a potential health risk as transmitters of diseases such as encephalitis and West Nile virus. During mosquito season, FCPH will set a variety of traps weekly throughout the county to trap and identify different species of mosquitoes which have the potential to carry mosquito-borne diseases.

Gravid traps attract culex mosquitoes, which have the potential to carry West Nile virus. West Nile virus can be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms include mild fever, headache and body aches, often with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Eighty percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito will not show any symptoms at all. Less than one percent of those who do have symptoms will become severely ill. In 2017, there were no human cases of WNV in Franklin County and only one in 2016. Franklin County had three human cases in 2015.

CDC light traps attract a wide variety of mosquitoes including Aedes Triseriatus mosquitoes. These mosquitoes have the potential to carry La Crosse encephalitis virus. Severe disease occurs most often in children under the age of 16. Many people infected with La Crosse encephalitis virus have no apparent symptoms. Among people who become ill, initial symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and tiredness. Some of those who become ill develop severe neuro-invasive disease (disease that affects the nervous system). Severe La Crosse encephalitis virus often involves encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and can include seizures, coma and paralysis. The last case of La Crosse encephalitis virus in Franklin County was in 2011.

BG sentinel traps attract Aedes Albopictus mosquitoes. These mosquitoes have the potential to carry zika virus, chikungunya and yellow fever. While some of these types of mosquitoes are found in our area, there is no sign that those diseases are being carried in the community.

Spraying will be determined and scheduled based on an increase in the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes, presence of West Nile virus in mosquitoes, history of West Nile virus in an area, weather events or patterns contributing to an increase in mosquito populations, when attempts to control populations through larviciding efforts are not effective, or there has been a locally acquired human case of West Nile virus. If there is a need to treat a specific area in Gahanna, pre-spray maps will be featured on the City of Gahanna’s website prior to treatment.

REPORTING
Call the FCPH Mosquito Bite Line at 614-525-BITE (2483) to submit a request for service or to report mosquito problems or concerns. The Bite Line is a voicemail system so please leave a detailed message. All submissions will be processed in the order received. FCPH will make an attempt to respond to reported mosquito problems or concerns within one business day. This may include a site visit to the location reported and/or telephone call to try and obtain further information.

BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION – WHAT YOU CAN DO
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, and thus many neighborhood mosquito problems likely come from water-filled containers located either on your property or nearby. It doesn’t take much water for mosquitoes to reproduce. Standing water is required for their young to hatch and develop. A single water-filled bucket can produce hundreds of biting mosquitoes. Although the adult mosquito’s life expectancy is not usually more than a few weeks, the female may lay several batches each containing several hundred eggs during her life. Once eggs are laid, a new crop of mosquitoes can hatch, grow and emerge from the water as adults in as little as one week.

Most disease-causing mosquitoes spend their entire lives near their container-breeding site. Anything that holds water is a potential breeding site for mosquitoes (flower pots, bird baths, tarps, trash cans, clogged gutters, wading pools, toys, mud puddles, unused tires, etc). It does not take much water and it does not take much time. By eliminating mosquito habitats around your home and taking simple precautions, you can reduce the mosquito population, lower your risk of mosquito-borne diseases and make your summer activities more enjoyable. Follow the tips below:

  • Empty, remove, cover or turn over any container that has the potential to hold water.
  • Change the water in wading pools, planters and bird baths weekly and store indoors when not in use.
  • Empty your pets watering dishes daily.
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are free of leaves and debris and are properly draining.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.
  • Properly dispose of old tires.
  • Drain or fill low areas on your property that hold water for more than five days.
  • Use sand to plug holes in trees where water can collect.
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their property.
  • Keep window screens and screened doors in good condition so mosquitoes cannot enter the home.
  • Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When outside, wear light color clothing, long sleeves, long pants and socks. Mosquitoes can pierce tight clothing so be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid perfumes, colognes or other heavy scents that may attract mosquitoes.
  • Use insect repellent products containing active ingredients that have been registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing. Products containing DEET and Picaridin typically provide longer-lasting protection than others, but products containing Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (PMD) also provide a reasonable amount protection. Always follow label directions when applying mosquito repellents and see if it is appropriate to apply to children, as some may have concentrations not suitable for small children.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND FORMS
Visit Franklin County Public Health’s Mosquito Management Program homepage at https://mosquito.myfcph.org for more detailed information regarding the general biology of mosquitoes, eliminating mosquitoes from your home, repellent information, management plan, spraying details and more. Forms are also available online to report problems or concerns (request for service) and do not spray requests. You can also call the Mosquito Bite Line at 614-525-BITE (2483) or follow Franklin County Public Health on Facebook (Franklin County Public Health) and/or Twitter (FC_PublicHealth) to receive notifications regarding mosquitoes or mosquito spraying as it is scheduled.