How to avoid mosquitos, ticks

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel Whitten
  • 92nd Aerospace Medical Squadron
With spring upon the Inland Northwest and summer right around the corner, more people will be heading out to explore and enjoy outdoor activities. 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.

Mosquitos are the most deadly insect in the world, annually killing over one million people worldwide, according to the Smithsonian Institute. They carry numerous disease including Malaria, Dengue and Yellow Fever. People may think that mosquito-borne diseases only effect tropical areas, but in Washington State, cases of West Nile virus, Western Equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis have been reported.

Public Health will continue to trap and test mosquitos to ensure these and other diseases are not in the area.

Here are some steps that people can take to lower their risk of being bitten by mosquitos:

· Properly discard tires, tin cans, plastic containers, bottles and other items that can hold even small amounts of water.
· Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants and a hat when going into mosquito-infested areas, such as wetlands or woods.
· Look for items or areas of your yard that may hold water such as empty buckets and watering cans, and store them inside. fill low spots in the ground and empty water from ornamental     lawn items (i.e., bird baths, wading pools and flower pots).
· Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.
· Clean roof gutters annually, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees plug up the drains.
· Check doors and window screens for holes through which mosquitos can enter your house.
· If possible, avoid the outdoors when mosquitos are most active, from dusk until dawn. 
· If it's necessary to be outdoors, use mosquito repellent, but remember to follow the label instructions for application. Use repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus  or IR3535 on skin and permethrin on clothing. Consult a doctor for the best repellent for infants and small children. Washington State is also home to another biting pest: the tick. Ticks   can spread Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia.

Also like the mosquito there are precautions you can take when in a tick habitat to reduce your risk of being bitten.

· Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
· Wear light-colored, tightly woven clothing which will allow the dark tick to be seen more easily.
· Apply tick repellent when necessary and carefully follow instructions on the label.
· Check yourself, your children and pets thoroughly for ticks. Carefully inspect areas around the head, neck, ears, under arms, between legs and back of knees.
· Shower or bathe (preferably within two hours after being in tick habitat) to wash off and more easily find ticks.
  For additional information about mosquitoes or ticks, contact the Public Health Office at 247-5757.

Also check out the Center for Disease Control site and the Washington State Department of Health site.