(WGHP) — Now that spring has arrived and warmer weather is on the way, we’re preparing to deal with all the annoying pests that come along with the extra sunshine.
Mosquitoes are among the most frustrating insects that come out in the spring and summer. Not only do some of them carry dangerous viruses, but they can be extremely difficult to avoid entirely, especially if you plan on going hiking or taking a swim.
Mosquito season runs from March to October since they can only survive in temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 degrees. Typically, they are most active in the hottest summer months such as July and August.
They lay eggs in standing water and thrive in tall grass and overgrown bushes.
Mosquito-borne illnesses in North Carolina
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, there are three main viruses mosquitos can transmit to people in North Carolina:
These are referred to as “arboviruses,” which means they are viruses transmitted by the bite of an infected arthropod, most commonly a mosquito.
The majority of cases happen between June and September since those are the months that mosquitos are most active.
Arboviruses usually cause either no symptoms or a mild illness similar to the flu, according to the NCDHHS.
However, arboviruses can lead to serious illnesses such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) and meningoencephalitis (layers of thin tissues that cover the brain becoming infected) which can be fatal.
More severe symptoms:
- sensitivity to light
- trouble walking
Ten cases of West Nile virus were reported in NC in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No cases were reported in the Piedmont Triad.
How to avoid mosquito bites
Mosquito-borne illness can be prevented in two main ways:
- personal protection measures
- reducing the population of infected mosquitoes
The NCDHHS says that personal measures include:
- spending less time outdoors, particularly in the early morning and early evening hours
- wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts
- applying mosquito repellent to areas where your skin is exposed
Measures to reduce mosquito populations include:
- eliminating mosquito breeding areas — standing water, bird baths, kid pools, etc.
- preventing mosquito larvae from hatching
- spraying approved insecticides to kill adult mosquitoes
The CDC recommends vaccines that can help prevent bacterial meningitis.
The NCDHHS also advises people to get immunized against communicable diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.
What to do if you get bit by a mosquito
Male mosquitoes do not bite you. Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite because they need blood to produce eggs.
To treat a bite, the CDC advises you to:
- wash the bite with soap and water
- use an ice pack to reduce the swelling
- use an over-the-counter anti-itch or antihistamine cream, and follow the directions on the label
- do not scratch the bite
You can also reduce itching by mixing one tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to create a paste. Put the paste on the bite, wait ten minutes and then wash it off.
If you notice symptoms of infection, such as the bite appearing red or feeling warm, getting worse over time, contact a healthcare provider.