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Don't give mosquitoes a breeding ground

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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A few steps eliminate areas where standing water attracts the pests

Everything has a season. Some are short; some are long. One of the longest, though, is one of the most irritating — mosquito season.

In the Verde Valley, mosquitoes are around from May through October. The time could be a little earlier or a little later. What the season depends upon is nighttime temperatures.

"When the nights are consistently below 50 degrees they almost go away. In the Verde Valley that's not going to happen until October, maybe even November," Project Manager for Public Health with Yavapai County Health Services Brian Supalla said.

More than 40 different species of mosquitoes live in Arizona. Only female mosquitoes bite to get a blood meal for their growing eggs. They are generally considered a nuisance but occasionally can transmit disease.

Several species have been associated with the West Nile virus, an infection that can cause serious illness, according to information from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Humans can become infected through bites from mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. Most people feel no symptoms. About 20 percent will feel flulike symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and muscle weakness.

A small number of people infected with the virus will experience severe symptoms that require hospitalization. Young children, those older than 50 years of age and those with underlying health problems are generally at a higher risk for severe symptoms, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Supalla said mosquitoes trapped in the Cornville area tested positive for the West Nile virus, but no cases of a human infected with the virus have been reported in Yavapai County.

Mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in standing water, so eliminating places where w'ater accumulates helps reduce the risk of breeding.

"Any standing water that lasts for more than four days is a potential breeding spot. They've found mosquitoes breeding in bottle caps," Supalla said.

Rainfall can cause some problems with puddles and containers left outdoors, but he said over watering and irrigation present more problems than rain.

"We deal with those issues every year. We work with folks to help them keep pooling from happening. About 99 percent cooperate," Supalla said.

The biggest problem is out-of-state owners who are sometimes difficult to contact.

Other places that can provide standing water are a leaky hose bib, leaves accumulated in storm drains and gutters; open crawl spaces; old tires, toys or garden equipment; refuse containers; rain barrels; poorly maintained ponds and swimming pools,, bird baths and animal dishes.

"As far as mosquitoes are concerned don't leave water out for pets. It also attracts other critters you don't want around your home, Supalla said.

As the weather cools and people leave windows open, repairs should be made to any holes in screens that a mosquito could get through.

Many mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn when the air is calm. If possible people should oid outside activity during those hours. Wear protective clothing long pants and long sleevesand apply insect repellent. "Anywhere you have humans you have mosquitoes, even in the desert because humans bring an oasis with them. Mosquitoes will always be around. People should protect themselves with DEET," Supalla said.

Mosquito breeding in rain barrels or ponds may be controlled by using "mosquito dunks." The donut-shaped tablets contain a bacterial toxin lethal to mosquito larvae, but harmless to the environment.

For information on the West Nile virus, call the State Public Health Hotline at (800) 314-9243.

Copyright 2009 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: September 16, 2009

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