How to Protect Yourself
Although mosquitoes are most active at dusk or dawn, some bite during the day. All mosquitoes will bite if you enter an area where they are resting, such as high grass or heavy underbrush. While it is not necessary to limit outdoor activity (unless there is evidence of mosquito-borne disease in the area), you can and should reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.
Common sense steps you can take to minimize the probability of infection include remembering the 5 D`s of West Nile Virus:
(1) DAWN AND (2) DUSK – When possible, avoid spending time outside at dawn and dusk.
(3) DRESS – Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active. Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
(4) DRAIN – Reduce the amount of standing water in or near your property by draining and/or removing it. Mosquitoes may lay eggs in areas with standing water. See below for more information and tips on reducing the amount of standing water in or near your property.
You can also protect your family from biting mosquitoes by reducing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding in or near your property. To reduce standing water, consider the following:
- Repair failed septic systems.
- Check and repair screens on windows and doors
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
- If possible, remove old or discarded tires on your property. Used tires have become the most common mosquito breading site in the country. If you cannot dispose of old tires, you can drill holes in them to allow standing water to drain.
- For containers that must remain on your property, such as bird baths and wading pools, change the water at least once per week.
- Cover trash containers to keep out rainwater.
- Repair leaky water pipes and outside faucets.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools even if they are not being used.
- Keep drains, ditches, and culverts free of grass clippings, weeds and trash so water will drain properly.
- Remove all leaf debris.
- Drill holes in the bottoms of all recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall to remove leaves or other debris that may clog the drains or gutters.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.
- Drain water from pool covers.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
- Install or repair screens for windows and doors that stay open, so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
If you know of specific mosquito control problems or problem areas, call your local city or county public works director, City Hall, or the Board of Supervisors.
(5) DEET – For additional protection from mosquitoes, use an insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET because mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Products containing DEET must be used properly. When Using DEET, be sure to Read and follow instructions on the label to avoid excessive use and over-application. In most circumstances products with 25 to 35 percent DEET provide adequate protection for adults.
- Apply DEET repellent to clothes whenever possible. Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Apply sparingly to exposed skin, and only then if the label permits.
- Do NOT apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin. If you spray your clothing, there is no need to spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.
- Do not spray DEET directly on the face. Instead, spray repellent onto the hands and use them to apply it to the face. Remember to avoid sensitive areas like the eyes, mouth and nasal membranes.
- Do not apply over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, or under clothing.
- To find out if you have a reaction to DEET, apply the repellent to a small area of an arm or leg before general use.
- Avoid spraying repellents on plastic (such as watch crystals and eyeglasses), synthetic fabrics, leather, or painted or varnished surfaces. Spraying DEET on these things may cause damage.
- Do not spray DEET repellents in enclosed areas as the spray mist is not meant to be inhaled.
- Upon returning indoors, wash any treated skin with soap and water.
- Wash any DEET treated clothing before wearing them again. DEET products usually repel mosquitoes for several hours. However, repellents are effective only at short distances from the treated surface, so you may still see mosquitoes nearby. As long as you are not being bitten, there is no need to apply more repellant.
Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. The more DEET a repellent contains the longer time it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of DEET in a repellent does not mean that your protection is better – just that it will last longer. DEET concentrations higher than 50% do not increase the length of protection. Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors.
Products with 10 to 35 percent DEET will provide adequate protection under most conditions.
When using DEET with children, consider the following:
- Use lower concentrations.
- Do NOT allow children to apply DEET repellent themselves.
- Do NOT use DEET on infants.
- Current CDC Guidelines suggest that if a repellent containing DEET is used on children under 2 years of age, only one application per day should be used.