August 15, 2003
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently warned of the potential for another outbreak of the deadly mosquito-borne West Nile virus in the United States this summer due to wet spring weather.
Appearing on CNN, Thompson said that funds were being provided to state and local agencies for the eradication of mosquito breeding grounds -- the most effective method for preventing the virus? spread.
Thompson also urged people to take steps to guard against being bitten by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeve shirts when adventuring into mosquito-prone areas.
U.S. health officials recently reported that the virus has resurfaced in two dozen states. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented 4,156 cases of West Nile in the United States. The outbreak was the largest since the virus first appeared in the Western Hemisphere in 1999.
What You Can Do to Help Fight Mosquitoes
- Empty standing water in old tires, cemetery urns, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where "wrigglers" and "tumblers" live.
- Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week if not more often.
- Drain or fill temporary pools with dirt.
- Keep swimming pools treated and circulating and rain gutters unclogged.
- Use mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely.
- Use head nets, long sleeves and long pants if you venture into areas with high mosquito populations, such as salt marshes.
- If there is a mosquito-borne disease warning in effect, stay inside during the evening when mosquitoes are most active.
- Make sure window and door screens are "bug tight."
- Replace your outdoor lights with yellow "bug" lights.
- Contact your local mosquito control district or health department. Neighborhoods are occasionally sprayed to prevent disease and nuisance caused by large mosquito numbers. If you have any questions about mosquitoes and their control, call your local authorities.