State health officials this week said flooding and high rainfall in many parts of Montana may promote in increase in mosquito numbers, some capable of transmitting disease causing viruses to humans.
Receding flood waters and stagnant pools left behind are ideal for breeding mosquitoes because they lay their eggs in water, including areas that are flood prone.
While mosquitoes that emerge from receding flood waters will be a nuisance, some can carry viruses, the most common being West Nile virus.
“It is hard to at this time to predict if West Nile or other mosquito borne virus infections will be higher than average in Montana this year,” Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said. “The best advice for all Montanans is to focus on avoiding mosquito bites as soon as mosquitoes emerge.”
According to DPHHS epidemiologist Jennifer Lowell, many people who become infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms or they develop a mild illness that may include headache, muscle aches, and a low grade fever. Generally, no treatment is needed. In rare cases, people can develop symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis.
The species of mosquitoes most likely to carry the West Nile virus don’t typically show up until later in the summer under dryer conditions and most human cases of West Nile virus infection do not occur in Montana until late July.
The easiest and best way to avoid all mosquito borne diseases is to prevent mosquito bites.
. When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient including DEET, Picaridin, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Follow the directions on the package.
. Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
. Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths daily. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.
. If standing water cannot be removed, mosquito-killing products labeled for elimination of mosquito larvae can be added.