// Mosquitoes used to seem like just pesky insects whose irritating bites left behind redness, itching and swelling.
But it’s a mistake to disregard the increasing danger of being bitten by mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus, a disease that can be transmitted to humans and animals.
West Nile was first identified in Uganda on the African continent in 1937. Since the summer of 1999, however, cases have been reported in the United States, including Michigan. Mosquitoes most often pick up the disease when they feed on infected birds.
Regional, state and local officials have emphasized public education as an effective assault on the problem, urging residents to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate standing water where more of the insects can hatch rapidly.
Follow the 5-T’s from Mosquito Squad to help reduce the mosquito population in your yard.
Reduce standing water to eliminate mosquito threats, including those in children’s sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts, in plant saucers and dog bowls. Other hot spots include tarps, gutters, and flat roofs.
Remove excess grass, leaves, firewood and clippings from yards.
Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like children’s portable sandboxes or plastic toys.
If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment aren’t taut, they’re holding water.
Utilize a mosquito elimination barrier treatment around the home and yard. Using a barrier treatment at home reduces the need for using DEET-containing bug spray on the body. Mosquito Squad’s eliminates up to 90% of the mosquitoes and ticks on a property.
People 50 and older with other health issues should take special precautions because they are more at risk of developing serious symptoms of the disease.
Most people who are infected will not notice any type of illness, the health department says.
About 20 percent will develop mild West Nile fever with symptoms of fever, headache, body aches, occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.
The department warns that anyone with signs or symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis (fever, stiff neck and back, vomiting, headache, drowsiness) should seek medical care immediately.