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Fill-in-Blank News Release
for County Health Departments

Health Officials Give Mosquito-Borne Illness Prevention Tips

For Release: (Date)
Contact: (County) Administrator
_____ County Health Department
(Phone #)

Spring brings about rain and growing gardens with all types of plants. But unwanted pests could be growing nearby also. Those unwanted pests are mosquitoes.

Mosquito-borne illnesses captured national attention last August when a virus new to the Western Hemisphere caused an epidemic in New York City. The newly introduced virus was West Nile Virus, a type of arbovirus transmitted by mosquitoes that acquire it from infected birds. The 1999 West Nile Virus outbreak caused illness and some deaths in humans, birds, and horses. Most Eastern states enhanced their disease surveillance programs to help track the spread of the West Nile Virus in the U.S.

_____ County Health Department officials say the only mosquito-borne illnesses Oklahomans have the potential to contract within the state are certain arboviral infections. Arboviruses may cause swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Common symptoms include fever, headache, nausea/vomiting, disorientation, and lethargy. Severe disease is characterized by seizures, coma and paralysis.

Although arboviral encephalitis is a notifiable infectious disease in Oklahoma, reports of human illness are sporadic. Western Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, and La Crosse Encephalitis are the three different arboviral infections most likely to occur in Oklahoma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of either Dengue fever or Malaria usually are due to international travel, and there is no evidence that mosquitoes transmit HIV.

"While mosquitoes are a definite nuisance, they also carry disease. The bites can become infected from scratching and cause further discomfort and illness," said _____ County Health Department Administrator _____.

_____ offered the following information about mosquito-borne illness, and tips to help prevent illness caused by mosquito bites.

Tips to prevent insect bite complications:

  • Use insect repellent only on exposed skin or clothing as the product label directs.
  • Always wash abrasions and scratches well with soap and water.
  • See a health care provider if an irritated mosquito bite exhibits extensive soreness, tenderness, or if fever develops.
  • After returning indoors, wash with soap and water to remove applied repellent.

Tips to practice mosquito control around the house and yard:

Because mosquitoes that transmit arboviruses breed in small pockets of standing water, ridding the environment of potential mosquito breeding places is the most effective method of disease prevention.

  • Prevent items such as buckets, tires and other items from collecting water.
  • Rinse, scrub, and refill birdbaths weekly.
  • Regularly clean fallen leaves and debris from roof gutters.
  • Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use.
  • Properly maintain swimming pools.
  • Empty your outdoor pet's water bowl and refill daily.
  • Store boats covered or upside down.
  • If you have a water garden or ornamental body of water, use an environmentally safe product to kill the larvae, or stock the water with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
  • Trim grass and weeds and dismantle brush to deprive mosquitoes of a habitat.
  • Fogging or spraying your yard with insecticide is not recommended since beneficial insects may be killed, causing other harmful insects to multiply.

For more information, contact the _____ County Health Department at (phone number).


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