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Dinolfo, Monroe County Health Officials Issue Information on Mosquitoes and Ticks

With the arrival of warmer weather following heavy rain this spring, insects have begun to emerge and Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza have issued answers to many frequently asked questions about mosquito-borne illnesses along with information on ticks and Lyme Disease prevention which may be of assistance to local residents.

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of Monroe County residents is one of my top priorities as County Executive,” said Dinolfo. “While there is not a significant health concern from mosquitos, we want to provide residents with access to the most reliable and up-to-date information available.”

"While we want people to enjoy the outdoors this summer, we want them to do so wisely,” said Mendoza “There are many specific preventive steps that residents can take to reduce risk.”

Frequently Asked Questions - Mosquitoes
Q: Will local flooding and its ensuing standing water increase the mosquito population in Monroe County?
A: At this point, there is no scientific evidence available to determine if local flooding will increase the mosquito population. However, many species of mosquitos located in Monroe County can breed in small amounts of standing water such as trash cans, bird baths and pools. The risk of encountering mosquitos from these sources remains constant. Standing water should be drained, if possible.

Q: What can I do to limit the amount of mosquitoes around my home?
A: Mosquitoes do not travel far from where they hatch. Empty any containers on your property that hold water after each rain to reduce mosquito populations around your home. Some insecticides, available at local garden stores, can help neutralize mosquito larvae in standing water.

Q: What is the risk of West Nile Virus in Monroe County?
A: The risk of contracting West Nile Virus is not a factor until August and September in Monroe County as the species of mosquito carrying the virus is not active during the spring and early summer.

Q: What is the risk of Zika Virus in Monroe County?
A: There is no risk of locally contracting Zika Virus in Monroe County as the species of mosquito carrying the virus does not live here due to our colder climate. However, if you are pregnant, or seeking to become pregnant, do not travel to a location where Zika Virus is circulating (visit www.cdc.gov/zika for current list).

Q: What can be done to prevent mosquito bites?
A: Most mosquitoes in our area are active at dusk and dawn. Use insect repellent containing DEET to prevent bites. Wash the repellent off once inside for the evening.

Lyme Disease & Ticks
Summer is an especially active period for ticks carrying Lyme Disease. Ticks are very small and hard to detect. Ticks can crawl on to people or animals when brushed against in wooded areas or tall grass. They become easier to see as they become engorged with blood while attached to the skin. Ticks generally have to be attached to the skin for 36-48 hours to transmit Lyme so prompt removal is important.

Symptoms of Lyme include: a bull’s-eye rash at the bite site several days – 1 month after being bitten, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, joint pain, and swollen glands. Lyme symptoms can often mimic viral infections such as flu which can make diagnosing it more complicated.

Lyme Prevention Tips
· When possible stay in center of walking trails where there are fewer ticks.
· Wear light colored clothing to spot ticks easily and tuck pants into socks when in wooded and grassy areas to prevent ticks from crawling under pants.
· Use insect repellents containing DEET; be sure to follow label instructions.
· Check yourself, children, and pets for ticks every few hours during the day while outdoors and thoroughly once at home for the evening.
· Remove attached ticks using tweezers to reduce risk of Lyme transmission.
· Wash and dry the clothing worn when out in the woods to kill ticks.
· If symptoms develop following a tick bite, consult a physician to determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary. Consult a veterinarian for pets.

Visit www2.monroecounty.gov/health-index.php for more information on Lyme Disease.