The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District warns the public to beware of mosquito-borne illnesses due to an increase in mosquito activity.
Anita Indellicate has noticed more mosquitoes in Central Texas since March. She usually wears long sleeve shirts and leggings to avoid mosquito bites. She also makes sure her children wear long pants and have on a homemade repellent before leaving the house.
According to the mother of two, mosquitoes are more than a nuisance for her children.
"We just have to be really vigilant because the bites do affect my kids but mostly my oldest one,” Indellicate said. “He was bit several times in one outing and it caused his body to swell quite badly, so we have the Epinephrine pen for him.”
Indellicate added she also worries about mosquitoes transmitting diseases, such as Zika virus.
That is a concern shared by the Waco- McLennan County Public Health District.
Environmental Health Manager David Litke said the department pays close attention to the three species of mosquitoes in the county (out of 26 species) that carry diseases, such as West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever and heartworm in cats and dogs.
“These viruses have been more prevalent and possibly could be brought into the county, so we have an increased concern about mosquito control because we now have those viruses potentially emerging in our area,” Litke said.
No Zika cases have been reported in McLennan County, but that is something the health district is tracking closely. Litke said the public health concern is that someone who travels to an area with Zika, brings it back while infected, and a mosquito in this area bites them and starts transmitting the disease.
To protect your family from mosquitoes, the public health district advises residents to eliminate standing water to prevent mosquito breeding sites. He said the three types of disease-carrying mosquitoes the health district tracks don’t fly long distances, so the source they came from can be between 150 feet to 450 feet.
"Any container of any type that is holding water, get rid of that. See if you can talk [neighbors] into doing the same thing, looking at their property,” Litke said.
If you can’t eliminate the water, you can use products to kill larva in stagnant water.
In addition, officials advise using repellent with ingredients like DEET to keep mosquitoes away and being aware of mosquitoes being more active at dusk and dawn. However, the Zika-carrying mosquito is a daytime biter.
If you have any symptoms of a mosquito-borne illness after getting a bite, you are advised to go to your doctor.
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