Whether you’re traveling across the world for vacation this summer or simply getting your backyard ready for a family barbecue, mosquito season is in full force, and you’ll want to be prepared to prevent their bites.
What Diseases Can Mosquitoes Carry?
Most mosquitoes are just a nuisance and their bites are often nothing more than just an itchy annoyance. But there are some mosquitoes that do carry dangerous viruses that can make you and your family sick.
While Zika and West Nile virus have garnered much of the media’s attention in recent years, illnesses such as dengue, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, malaria, and yellow fever are just a few of the viruses that mosquitoes around the world have been known to carry. Many of these diseases aren’t prominent in America, but they do pose a serious risk for tourists.
How to Prevent Mosquito Bites and Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can limit the impact mosquitoes have on you and your family this summer. While there’s no one way to avoid all mosquito interaction, the following five tips are easy ways to prevent illness (and limit itchiness) all season long.
Tip 1: Use Insect Repellent
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid mosquito bites is to use insect repellent.
For the most effective protection, choose a repellent that includes one of the following ingredients:
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted extensive research on DEET repellents and has found it to be safe for use when instructions are followed. But if you’re still not sure if you want to use a repellent that includes DEET or simply want to use something else, the EPA website features a handy repellent search tool to help you pick the right one for you and your family.
Tip 2: Be Mindful of Clothing Choices
As the summer weather heats up, it’s natural to want to shed the jeans and long sleeves in favor of shorts and other cool clothing. Unfortunately, this can open you up to bites.
If you know you’re going to be in an environment where mosquitoes thrive, such as the woods or in the backyard, consider wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts to cover as much of your skin as possible. But if that’s not feasible, tip #1 will be even more important to follow.
Tip 3: Protect Your Home
One of the best ways to avoid mosquitoes altogether this season is by preparing your home.
Give your windows, doors, and walls a visual check for any openings that may allow mosquitoes or other pests to enter. Using your air conditioning rather than opening windows and doors to keep your home cool is another way to reduce exposure to most types of bugs. If you do plan on keeping your windows open this summer, however, be sure to use screens at all times.
Keeping an eye on things outside of your home is another important step in limiting the impact of mosquitoes. Look for any areas that might be habitats for mosquitoes and other insects and work to eliminate them. Standing water, bird baths, and even potted plant trays can act as the ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Tip 4: Choose the Right Time to Be Outside
During the summer, Mosquitoes can be found at any time of the day, but some weather conditions are more favorable for them than others.
Mosquitoes have been found to thrive in humid conditions with relatively low winds, so being mindful about heading outside during those times is an easy way to avoid encountering bites during peak mosquito activity.
Tip 5: Talk with a Doctor Before Traveling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends meeting with your doctor within 4-6 weeks before your trip begins. It also notes that while there are no vaccines for many mosquito-borne illnesses, vaccines do exist for certain viruses. And your doctor will help you decide which vaccinations, if any, you should receive depending on where you’re traveling.
There’s plenty more to know about mosquitoes, the viruses they can carry, and preventive measures you can take. For more information and advice, check out this article from the CDC and visit the EPA’s official website.