LANSING — If you can prevent mosquito bites, you can prevent mosquito-borne diseases. The message seems simple enough—and it holds true for both humans and animals—but aside from spray-on repellent, what other tactics are there? And what are the dangers of not taking precautions?
In the latest edition of the “Fresh from the Field” podcast series from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), four experts discuss several strategies Michiganders can use to prevent or reduce the threat of mosquitoes when enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
“One of the biggest things Michigan residents can do is get rid of standing water in their yards or around their property,” said Thomas Lawrence, a pesticide applicator business license specialist in MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “Mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in standing waters, which can be found in kiddie pools, old tires, flowerpots, eaves and gutters.”
“Mosquitoes are transmitters of many different diseases here in Michigan,” said Emily Dinh, PhD, MSPH, a medical entomologist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “A repellant is one tool that can be used in conjunction with other tactics to prevent mosquito-borne diseases and mosquito bites. I would encourage people to visit the EPA’s ‘Find the Repellent that is Right for You’ website, and I also recommend wearing long sleeves and pants, especially between dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.”
“For horses, the number one thing we can do is to vaccinate them,” said Michele Schalow, DVM, program manager in MDARD’s Animal Industry Division. “We have highly effective and safe vaccines for both Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus. It’s really important to know that with EEE, up to 95 percent of horses that contract it will die. And with WNV, up to 40 percent of horses that contract it will die.”
“Diseases like West Nile virus and EEE that Dr. Schalow spoke about in companion animals can also occur in wild animals,” said Thomas Cooley, a pathologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “In Michigan, we diagnosed West Nile in 65 avian species and six mammalian species, and EEE in one mammalian species—the white-tailed deer—and three avian species.”
Cooley and Dr. Schalow continued to discuss ways for horse owners to get free testing, and what to do if you suspect wildlife may have died from EEE or WNV.
To listen to the “How to Prevent Mosquitoes and Mosquito-borne Illnesses” edition of the podcast series, click here. The “Fresh from the Field” podcast series can be found on Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcast, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.
— Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
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