Media Release

County Health Department Emphasizes Mosquito-Borne Illnesses Prevention

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 4:25 PM

This release sent at the Request of the Alachua County Health Department.

ALACHUA COUNTY, FL – The Alachua County Health Department (ACHD) emphasizes the importance of protection against mosquito-borne diseases.  Summer is rapidly approaching and with it comes the mosquito season.  Mosquito activity peaks during the wetter summer months and so does the potential for transmission of mosquito borne diseases such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.

"Alachua County’s surveillance system is comprised of sentinel chickens, surface water larvae counts, light traps, dead bird reports, citizen complaints, and signals from the medical and veterinary community.  These systems can detect the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Niles Virus in the County" said Anthony Dennis, Alachua County Environmental Health Director.  "We urge all citizens to take steps to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.”

Symptoms of West Nile virus (WNV) infection and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion.  Physicians should contact the local county health department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness.  State of Florida Department of Health laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne diseases.

The ACHD advises citizens to protect themselves from mosquito bites by following the “5 D’s”

·         Drainage – Rid the area around your home of standing water, which is where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. 

·         DEET – Repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) are recommended to protect against mosquito exposure.  Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are other repellent options.  Always use repellants according to the manufacturer’s directions.

·         Dress – Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.

·         Dusk and Dawn – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active.

Tips on Repellent Use

·         Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before applying a repellent to skin.  Some repellants are not suitable for children. 

·         Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended.  Other potential mosquito repellents, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in April 2005, contain picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.  These products are generally available at local pharmacies.  Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label. 

·         Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing. 

·         In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate.  According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years.  DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.

·         Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when mosquitoes are present.

·         Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children.  Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.  

·         If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing.  Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Tips on Eliminating Mosquito Breeding Sites

Elimination of breeding sites is one of the keys to prevention.

·         Clean out eaves, troughs and gutters.

·         Remove old tires or drill holes in those used in playgrounds to drain.

·         Turn over or remove empty plastic pots.

·         Pick up all beverage containers and cups.

·         Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water.

·         Pump out bilges on boats.          

·         Replace water in birdbaths and pet or other animal feeding dishes at least once a week.

·         Change water in plant trays, including hanging plants, at least once a week.

·         Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.

Monitoring wild bird deaths can help officials track the spread of some mosquito-borne diseases.  Anyone who discovers a dead bird is encouraged to report it via the Internet.  The bird mortality reporting system is located on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website at:  Citizens may also report dead birds to a county health department or local FWC office.

For more information on mosquito borne illnesses, visit the ACHD website at, the DOH Web site at, the CDC Web site or contact the ACHD at 352-334-7930.

The goal of the Alachua County Health Department is to promote, protect, maintain and improve the health and safety of all citizens and visitors.



If you have a disability and need an accommodation in order to participate in a County program, service or public meeting, please contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 at least 2 business days prior to the event. TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).