Signs like these can be found in nearby neighborhoods where mosquitoes have been found. (Anna Foschetti/Lariat)
Fall semester is in full swing but there’s more than just students buzzing around campus. Aside from the itchy nuisance of mosquitoes, these pesky little blood suckers can transport some pretty serious diseases. West Nile, Zika, Dengue and Malaria are some diseases carried by mosquitoes.
Of the four diseases, West Nile is the only one that is present in Orange County according to Orange County Vector Control and recently found here in Mission Viejo. West Nile is spread by a bite from an infected mosquito, yet it is not spread by contact with an infected person. Zika on the other hand is spread by a mosquito bite and coming in contact with an infected person. At this time the two types of mosquitoes that carry Zika, the Yellow Fever and Asian Tiger, have been found in Orange County but have tested negative for Zika.
Symptoms of infection are similar to the flu. Fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and a rash are a few. Most cases last only a week and will resolve on its own. In rare cases infection can lead to more serious side effects like brain inflammation, paralysis and birth defects. Pregnant women are advised to take extra precautions when traveling to places where Zika is present. Those with weakened immune systems are also warned to take extra precautions.
Mosquitoes only live for a few months with warmer temps being the height of their breeding. According to Orange County Vector control the key to protection is prevention to keep breeding under control. Mosquitoes can breed in little amounts of water, so emptying any standing water around your home is key. Even water in vases in homes should be switched out once a week. Keep all windows screened and AC on during hot day time temps. For any ponds or standing bodies of water Vector control will supply mosquito fish that will eat any larvae before they hatch.
To protect yourself when headed outside, wear long sleeves and pants that are light colored. Use a mosquito repellent with DEET or oils like citronella, lemongrass and lavender. Avoid standing bodies of water. Keep moving, mosquitos are weak so fanning yourself or any strong currents will keep them away. Avoid going out at the hottest times and stay in air conditioned areas.