Protect from Mosquitoes after Storms Remember to Tip and Toss

Raleigh

Public health officials remind everyone to “tip and toss” outdoor water containers after this weekend’s heavy rain. More than half of North Carolina received heavy rainfall as Tropical Storm Hermine tracked along the coast. Disposing of standing water is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce breeding sites for mosquitoes near houses.

Storms with high wind and rain can wash away existing mosquito breeding sites. But, as standing water recedes, new breeding sites for mosquitoes develop and flourish.

“Based on experience with prior hurricanes there is a high probability that populations of nuisance mosquitoes, which often breed in floodplains, will increase,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Carl Williams, DVM. "These mosquitoes, such as Aedes vexans, lay eggs on moist surfaces at sites where standing water occurs occasionally. The eggs remain dormant through a dry period and then hatch when covered with water. In this circumstance very large 'broods' of mosquitoes may emerge simultaneously.” 

These mosquitoes may not transmit disease, but are known to hamper reconstruction efforts and place additional stress on human populations. While individuals can do little to reduce the breeding habitat of these types of mosquitoes, their effect can be reduced through the use of insect repellents such as DEET on exposed skin and treating clothing with permethrin.

“Container inhabiting Aedes species mosquitoes, such as Aedes albopictus breed effectively in small containers of standing water that Hermine will create,” said Williams. “Minimizing the habitat for mosquitoes and reducing exposure to them is essential.”

The following are basic steps everyone should follow throughout warm weather months:

  • Reduce mosquito breeding opportunities by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least weekly.
  • Tightly secure screens on all openings on rain barrels used for water conservation.
  • Clean up any trash or leaves that may be around your home or in rain gutters.
  • Use tick and mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) on exposed skin and wear clothing treated with permethrin, a synthetic insecticide used against disease-carrying insects. 
  • Mosquito-proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside, and use air conditioning if you have it.

For information on preventing tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses, visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/vector.html.  

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The N.C. Division of Public Health Epidemiology, Communicable Disease Branch works with the public, local health departments and other public health agencies, healthcare professionals, educators, businesses, communities and healthcare facilities to protect and improve the health of people in North Carolina through disease detection, tracking, investigation, control, education, prevention and care activities.

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