Sprinting Into September’s Outdoor Activities

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By Cindy Mulla, Beach Mosquito Control District, Public Relations/Education

September, the final month of summer, sprints along into the beginning of new outdoor sporting activities and extraordinary events that continue throughout the autumn months.
Students of all ages are diligently practicing and taking part in outdoor extra-curricular activities like cross country, marching band, football, and soccer. Northwest Florida’s spectacular September outdoor weather entices us all to explore our personal outdoor favorite seasonal enjoyment: camping, biking, hiking, fairs, concerts, and rooting for our favorite sport teams along with other special family activities too.

However, September is the peak month for an appearance of an unwanted viral guest to our local area, West Nile Virus (WNV). The virus transmission cycle starts when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then transmits the disease to a person through a mosquito bite. Humans and other mammals are dead-end hosts and cannot transmit the virus further through mosquito bites.

Never fear! Beach Mosquito Control District’s arbovirus (viruses transmitted by mosquito, tick or other arthropods.) surveillance team diligently checks year-round for locally transmitted mosquito-borne disease. We do this by using diverse types of surveillance strategies and techniques to collect time-sensitive data to protect our local area.

Throughout the week, Beach Mosquito Control District traps, collects, identifies, and tests specific mosquito species for different mosquito-borne diseases. Seasonally we consistently trap thirty-six distinct species and fifty species annually. Only seventeen of these species of mosquitoes have the potential to transmit mosquito-borne disease. Beach Mosquito Control District also keeps three sentinel chicken flocks that we sample and test weekly as an early, real-time sensitive mosquito disease marker for the Bay County Health Department. This public health data helps Beach Mosquito Control District make and put into action a strategic plan of operation to control the mosquito populations and thus lower the risk level of mosquito-borne disease.

As we arrive closer to the beginning of autumn, the daylight hours are becoming shorter and peak mosquito times increasing. Try to stay indoors during dusk and dawn to lower your exposure to mosquitoes.

Remember, personal mosquito prevention and protection begins with you!

When outdoors please wear a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended repellent and always read the repellent manufacturer label directions before choosing and wearing a repellent. Just like a sunscreen, repellent reapplication is key for longer protection against mosquito bites. Also, wearing long sleeves and pants are another form of protection too. If children are waiting for a bus in the morning or are taking part in outdoor extra-curricular activities, please be a superhero parent or caregiver and protect your loved one with the invisible shield of an insect repellent.

Deter mosquitoes from taking up residence on your property by checking weekly for items that can or does contain standing water. Immediately, drain and if possible, remove these item(s). These are some helpful tips: store canoes/kayaks up-side-down, keep tarps free of standing water, children’s toys (store indoors), and keep bird bath water clean. Remember, don’t leave anything outdoors that can collect water and create a mosquito breeding habitat. Oh, and don’t forget to look up! Please, make certain your rain gutters are unclogged and water is freely flowing.

Most importantly, we encourage you to contact your local mosquito control district for immediate help for mosquito problems that might be out of your control. In addition to the mosquito data our district collects, the number and location of service requests we receive from the public is a helpful key indicator for where extra mosquito control is necessary. Contacting us is a huge piece of the mosquito control operational puzzle.

Beach Mosquito Control District service boundaries are from west of the Hathaway Bridge, east of the South Walton County line and south of the intercoastal waterway to the beaches.

Remember, we encourage you to contact us by phone at (850) 233-5030 or through our website, www.pcbeachmosquito.org. Your tax dollars cover our services so please don’t hesitate to reach out today!