Preventing Mosquito Bites and Disease
Mosquitoes are a real nuisance in the summer months, but their bite can do more than just make you itch; they can transmit diseases like West Nile virus.
Mosquitoes, birds and people can get West Nile Virus. About 1 in 5 people will develop a fever with other symptoms like headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash after being bitten by a mosquito that has the virus. Most people recover completely, but in some people, fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months and they can get more serious infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) staff monitor mosquito populations each summer, treating water on public land that has high numbers of mosquitoes known to carry and transmit West Nile virus. The treatment limits the buildup of West Nile virus infection in the bird population, which protects human health by reducing the amount of virus in the environment.
Mosquitoes can also transmit Zika virus, but in over 10 years of monitoring, Public Health has never found the two species of mosquitoes in our area that are Zika carriers. They will continue to monitor for them this summer.
Prevention efforts focus on preventing mosquito bites, and getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
In order to prevent mosquito bites you should:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants from dusk through dawn. That's when many mosquitoes are most active.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents, following product instructions.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
In order to eliminate mosquito breeding areas:
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as flower pots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, birdbaths, rain barrels, and trash cans.