County begins spraying for mosquitoes
By Carrie A. Mizell
Recent floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby have left mosquitoes swarming and residents throughout the county feeling the oh-so-familiar tingle from their bite.
Gilchrist County officials began fighting back last week, when they initiated a countywide spraying regime that began on July 10 near the Santa Fe River and continues Monday through Friday. According to County Administrator Bobby Crosby, the entire county will be sprayed for mosquitoes in the form of a plume of smoke emitting from the back of a county pickup truck.
With so many mosquitoes buzzing around the community, the Gilchrist County Health Department is now emphasizing the importance of residents and visitors protecting themselves against mosquito-borne diseases.
To prevent mosquitoes from living and multiplying around homes and businesses, citizens are asked to drain standing water. Drain water from garbage cans, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected. Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used. Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week. Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps and don’t accumulate water. Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pool when not in use.
Cover your skin with clothing. If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with 10 to 30 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
Cover door and windows with screens. Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.
Symptoms of West Nile virus may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion. Physicians should contact their county health department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness. DOH laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne disease.
DOH continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, malaria and dengue.
For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit DOH’s Environmental Health website at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html or call the Gilchrist County Health Department at 352-498-1360.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission maintains a Web site for reporting wild bird die offs related to West Nile virus. To report a dead bird, visit http://MyFWC.com/bird.
For further information, please contact the Gilchrist County Health Department or visit
www.doh.state.fl.us or www.FloridaDisaster.org.