Commentary: Controlling the mosquito population to prevent the spread of disease

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With the introduction of spring, the Long Beach Health Department is reminding residents that warmer weather creates an ideal environment for mosquitoes. Since mosquitoes can carry diseases like Zika, West Nile virus, encephalitis, malaria and canine heartworm, it is important that the entire community works together to control mosquitoes. The Health Department’s Vector Control Program is encouraging residents and businesses to partner with them to control mosquitoes on private property and report mosquito breeding in all areas. With the recent heavy rains and warmer temperatures, conditions are ideal for mosquito breeding.

The community can help minimize mosquito breeding and mosquito-related diseases by following these recommendations:

• Tip and toss any standing water in and around your home
• Empty any containers filled with water in and around the home.
• Clean and scrub bird baths and pet water bowls at least once a week.
• Dump water from potted plant saucers.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and drain water from pool covers.
• Limit the watering of lawns and outdoor plants.
• Change pet water bowls every seven days and remove standing water from around your home to protect your pets from mosquito bites.

The community can also directly protect themselves from contact with mosquitos by:

• Using an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent, such as DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) to prevent mosquito bites. DEET is safe for children 2 months and older, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Always use as directed.
• Making sure to install screens on doors and windows.

Residents and businesses are urged to report unusual numbers of day-biting mosquitoes and neglected or green pools by calling the Long Beach Mosquito Hotline at (562) 570-4132 or submitting an online report at longbeach.gov/mosquitoes. The community should also report dead birds to the California Department of Public Health by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD or online at westnile.ca.gov. Dead birds may carry West Nile virus and is primarily spread by the bite of a mosquito. These infected mosquitoes can spread the West Nile virus to humans and other animals when they bite.