2010-07-29 / Top News

Here’s the buzz: Mosquitoes are out in full force

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA / COURTESY PHOTO UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA / COURTESY PHOTO Thinking the record-breaking cold of

ng winter might have stemmed the

this past number of of Florida because and so are While the freezes might have killed a f pesky mosquitoes? University a entomologists say think again, mosquitoes are out in full force,

e the diseases they carry.

thf ihthkilld number of wintering adult mosquitoes, the insects’ eggs are capable of withstanding bad weather — which means it’s as important as ever to take proper precautions against bites, said Roxanne Connelly, an associate professor of medical entomology at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“The mosquitoes are back,” Ms. Connelly nelly said. In fact, she adde added, “The disease

season seems to be off to

an early start.”

That early start include

includes dengue fever.

As of the end of June

June, eight locally

acquired cases had been re

reported in Monroe

roe County at the souther southern tip of Florida

this year.

Last year bore witness t

to the first cases

fd ttdi of dengue contracted within Florida in

more than 50 years. Although the disease is rarely fatal, it causes high fever and severe headaches, as well as joint and muscle pain.

“We were hoping that it wouldn’t be very prevalent this year, but the number of cases are starting to add up,” said Coleen Fitzsimmons, a biologist with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which conducts door-to-door home inspections throughout Monroe County and coordinates other largescale control efforts, such as spray trucks. At the moment, dengue is isolated to Key West, but that doesn’t mean people throughout the state shouldn’t take proper mosquito precautions.

The most recent mosquito-borne disease risk assessment from UF’s Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory reports four major areas of concern for St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile virus this year: Pinellas and Hillsborough counties; Polk, Hardee, Manatee and Sarasota counties; Hendry and Collier counties; and Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties.

Eastern equine encephalitis is a concern throughout the Panhandle, where several horses have contracted the disease. Concern for this disease isn’t limited to the northern part of the state, however.

Eastern equine encephalitis is unusually widespread, said UF entomologist Jonathan Day, with more than half the cases in the southern half of Florida. For example, the disease has been detected in Martin County for the first time in more than 30 years.

Experts recommend wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeves and pants, when possible, and using repellents that contain DEET as an active ingredient.

These recommendations remain true for daylight hours. Although many disease-carrying mosquitoes are only active after dark, others, such as the dengue-carrying Asian tiger and yellow fever mosquitoes, will bite in broad daylight.

It is also important to reduce mosquito populations around your home by eliminating standing water. Something as small as a soda can is capable of holding hundreds of mosquito larvae.

For more information on mosquitoes and what you can do to protect yourself, visit fmel.ifas.ufl.edu. ¦

in the know Tips on Repellent Use

>> Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before applying a repellent.

>> In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is appropriate. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children less than 3 years old.

>> Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when outside.

>> Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.

>> Apply insect repellent to exposed skin or onto clothing, but not under clothing. Do not apply repellent to the eyes or mouth, cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.

>> If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to clothing or gear.

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