Summer Safety: Mosquito-borne diseases

  • Published
  • 92nd Medical Group Public Health Office

With summer in full swing in the Inland Northwest, more people are heading out to explore and enjoying the great outdoors. These warmer months and longer days not only bring fun in the sun, but set up a great environment for the breeding of nasty pests such as mosquitoes.

A few mosquito-borne diseases that can be found in Washington state include: West Nile Virus, Western Equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis. Here are some steps that can be taken to lower your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.

  • Look for items or areas of your yard that may hold water.
  • Properly discard tires, tin cans, plastic containers, bottles and other items that can hold even small amounts of water.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and a hat when going into mosquito-infested areas, such as wetlands or woods.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.
  • Police your doors and window screens for holes through which mosquitoes can enter your house.
  • If possible, avoid the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, from dusk until dawn. 
  • If it’s necessary to be outdoors, use mosquito repellent. Always follow instructions on the label.
  • Use mosquito netting over infant carriers, strollers or playpens.

For pet and animal concerns: The major mosquito disease concern with dogs and cats is heartworm disease. Ensuring your pets complete an annual heartworm test and are on monthly preventative is the best way to prevent this disease. West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis are diseases that horses should be vaccinated against. If you have questions or concerns, please talk with your veterinarian.

For additional information about mosquitoes and proper use of insect repellent, check out the Center for Disease Control site or the Washington State Department of Health site: