NORRISTOWN, PA – With the onset of warmer weather, mosquito season is starting and the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) has steps residents can take to protect themselves from spreading mosquito-borne disease.
Mosquito-borne disease can spread to animals and people through the bite of a mosquito carrying the disease. The most commonly occurring mosquito-borne disease in Montgomery County is West Nile Virus (WNV). WNV surfaced in the United States in 1999 and is usually transmitted between infected birds and mosquitoes. Zika virus is another emerging mosquito-borne illness carried by mosquitos.
In 2021, there were 26 human cases of WNV throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Of those, three were found in Montgomery County residents. This is an increase from the 2020 WNV season which reported 11 cases in Pennsylvania, two of which were residents of Montgomery County. There have been no locally acquired cases of Zika in Pennsylvania to date.
To reduce the likelihood of being bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito, MCOPH recommends that residents take the following steps to reduce their exposure to mosquitos:
- Check and repair windows and screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
- Survey your property and eliminate standing water, dispose of containers that can collect standing water such as old tires, cans, bottles, buckets, and toys.
- After it rains, empty plant containers, bird baths, flowerpots, kiddie pools, and pool covers to keep water from collecting in these items.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly and rooftops are free of standing water.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.
- Drill several holes in the bottom of recycling buckets so water can drain from them. Cover trash containers so rain cannot accumulate in them.
- Since clothing can help reduce mosquito bites, wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Use an approved mosquito repellant when outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are active. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Follow the label directions carefully. Do NOT apply repellent to the face.
MCOPH will soon begin routine mosquito surveillance and control throughout Montgomery County to monitor trends in mosquito patterns in our region. If disease-carrying mosquitoes are found in a specific area that could pose a threat to human health, pesticide spraying may be necessary in the targeted area.
Residents can be notified of when mosquito spraying will occur in their area by signing up to receive ReadyMontco alerts at http://readymontco.org. Residents can sign up for county alerts and municipal alerts for the jurisdiction in which they reside.
Information about mosquito-borne diseases can be found on the CDC website.