July 13, 2016
Contact: Danny Chun: 630-276-5558
Protect Against Mosquito-borne Illnesses This Summer
As the medical community and the public learn more about the mosquito-borne Zika virus, experts at the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) remind Illinois residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites this summer. Although mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus has not been reported in Illinois or the continental U.S. to date, mosquitoes can transmit other diseases, including West Nile Virus. The virus has already been identified in 18 Illinois counties so far this year, underscoring the importance of taking steps to avoid exposure to mosquitoes carrying the disease.
“In the summer months when we tend to spend more time outdoors, an itchy mosquito bite can, in rare cases, be not only a nuisance, but also a danger to our health,” says Michael Wahl, MD, Medical Director, IPC. “The best way to avoid an infection is to reduce the risk of being bitten by virus-carrying mosquitoes.”
To stay safe and have fun this summer, follow the three R’s: Reduce, Repel and Report.
REDUCE exposure to mosquitoes.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, typically at dusk and dawn;
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, and repair or replace screens that are damaged with tears or other openings;
- When outdoors, wear long pants and long sleeve shirts to limit the amount of skin that is exposed to mosquitoes; and
- Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas around the home by removing standing water from gutters, wading pools and potted plants.
REPEL mosquitoes with insect repellent.
- Wear clothing treated with an insecticide called permethrin, a common ingredient in household insect killers;
- Use insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535;
- Concentrations of up to 30% DEET have been shown to be safe for use on children older than two months;
- Products with higher concentrations of DEET repellant do not provide more effective repellency, but instead provide a longer period of repellent action;
- For all repellants, read the label instructions on how often to apply;
- Apply only to skin or exposed clothing, not underneath clothing;
- Do not use repellant on open wounds, cuts or irritated skin;
- Do not apply to eyes or mouth;
- When using a spray, do not spray onto the face, but instead, spray onto hands and then rub onto the face; and
- After going indoors, wash off skin with soap and water.
REPORT areas where mosquitoes breed.
- In communities that have mosquito control programs, report areas of stagnant water, like roadside ditches and flooded backyards, to the local municipal government.
The IPC handles calls on mosquito bites, misuse of repellants and much more. For more information on mosquitoes and other topics, visit the IPC’s Resource Library.
IPC experts are available to provide information and treatment advice 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, including holidays. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance, please call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222. For more information, visit the IPC’s website: http://illinoispoisoncenter.org.
The Illinois Poison Center is a nonprofit health service that provides the people of Illinois with comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via a free, confidential 24-hour helpline staffed by specially trained physicians, nurses and pharmacists.