Health & Safety

June 14, 2012

Fight the Bite!

In recent weeks, more people have been spending time out of the house to enjoy the warm, sunny weather. Unfortunately, the warmth has also brought out the local mosquito population, which may be carrying diseases such as the West Nile Virus (WNV).

So far, there is still no human vaccine for the WNV infection, and treatment is only available for the symptoms which may result from the infection. These symptoms can include headache, fever, body aches, muscle weakness, and a skin rash, and may begin a couple of days or weeks following the bite.

One in 150 people infected with the WNV will develop more severe symptoms. In extreme cases, health issues can lead to fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).  In 2011, Arizona had the nation’s second highest amount of WNV cases, with 69 cases—resulting in 4 deaths.

In southern Arizona, the mosquito season usually begins around the end of April and lasts well into October. Here at D-M, there are two offices which are involved in mosquito control efforts; the 355th Medical Group Public Health office performs seasonal trapping to identify the mosquito species present on base and to estimate their prevalence, while the 355th Civil Engineering Squadron’s Entomology office concentrates its efforts on killing adult and larval mosquitoes.

Entomology routinely treats standing water at various places around the base, as this is the environment in which mosquitoes breed. Standing water at your own home may also be a breeding ground. You can reduce the mosquitoes around your home by taking the following measures:

Eliminate standing water where mosquitos can breed (kid pools, buckets, other containers).

Change water in flower vases, birdbaths, planters and animal watering pans at least twice a week.

Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets and clean your roof gutters. Get rid of weeds, tall grass and overgrown areas.

Another way to decrease your risk of exposure to WNV is to limit outside activities at dusk and dawn—times when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outdoors at these times, use insect repellant containing DEET and wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Placing intact screens on doors and windows can prevent exposure indoors. For more information on WNV prevention, please visit www.westnileaz.com.




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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