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It's Mosquito Season, Time to Protect Yourself

Submitted by the LCO Health Center


Summer is here and Wisconsin is home to approximately 56 species of mosquitoes. Many of these species are never found biting people, as some prefer to feed on birds or other animals. Only a few species are capable of spreading disease to humans. Mosquito-borne illnesses are most common in Wisconsin during the months of May through September, when mosquitoes are most active. Anyone can get a mosquito-borne illness, but people over the age of 60 and those with a compromised immune system are at greater risk for serious complication.


Last year an increase in the number of cases (5) for Jamestown Canyon Virus were identified in Sawyer County and Lac Courte Oreilles, an illness primarily spread to humans by only a couple species of mosquito. It is important to note all of the 2018 patients have recovered. Symptoms of arboviral illnesses include fever and flu-like illness, and can result in encephalitis or meningitis. Jamestown Canyon virus as well as the two more well-known diseases—West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis - are viruses transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. They cannot be transmitted from human to human or animal to human.


Ongoing surveillance is currently underway on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation and within Sawyer County to get a better understanding of the local mosquito population and their potential for spreading mosquito-borne illnesses, particularly Jamestown Canyon virus. This research is being conducted by the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, State of Wisconsin, Indian Health Service, LCO Tribal Health Clinic and Sawyer County. It is important to note that human cases of Jamestown Canyon virus are very rare. This research is being done primarily for academic purposes, and not due to an immediate public health concern in the area. To decrease risk everyone should still protect themselves from mosquito bites when enjoying the outdoors.


The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. When outdoors, wear loose fitting, light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants. Head nets can also be used in areas with high mosquito populations. Use a safe and effective mosquito repellent. For best results, wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET (up to 30%). Applying repellents containing permethrin to your clothing or gear is also effective. No matter the product you use follow the product label and reapply as directed. Wash off repellents when you return indoors.


Protecting your environment from mosquitoes is also an effective way to decrease the amount of mosquitoes near your home. Inspect your property and turn over, cover, or throw away any items that could hold water. Examples include tires, buckets, cans, flower pots and saucers, and toys. Remove small pools of standing water from around your home. Empty and change the water in pet bowls, bird baths, fountains, and pools at least once a week. Check gutters and clean out leaves frequently to make sure they are not plugged, and tighten up loose tarps that could hold any water.


If you need any additional information on protecting yourself or your family please contact the Wisconsin Department of Health Fight the Bite website located at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/fight-bite/index.htm or you can also contact your local health department at 715 634-4806 or Lac Courte Oreilles Community Health Center at (715)634-5100 for more information or consult on symptoms or concerns related to mosquito bites.