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Md. Department of Agriculture Begins Mosquito Control Spraying Populations Early
The mosquito season has begun and the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) reminds residents that its spray trucks will be out from dawn to dusk in participating areas in an effort to prevent mosquito-borne diseases in humans, pets and livestock. MDA works with more than 2,000 communities in 16 counties to survey and monitor mosquito populations and implement appropriate control activities, such as applying insecticide by air and ground. All MDA trucks are clearly marked with the MDA logo, and the agency has signed written agreements with private property owners whose property is enrolled in the spray program. Property owners who are concerned about any vehicles on their property should call local police authorities.
“Despite the warm winter and early spring, mosquitoes are not expected to be any worse than in recent years unless weather conditions change significantly. Although mosquitoes did emerge earlier than usual this year, the state was generally dry, and mosquitoes did not have access to water from snow melt, abundant seasonal rainfall and marsh flooding, which they need to develop,” said Mosquito Control Program Chief Michael Cantwell. “The weather – and how wet it gets – determines how bad the season will be and how much spraying needs to occur. So far, weather conditions are no worse than in the recent past.”
Most mosquitoes do not pose a threat to public health because they are not infected with viruses or other pathogens. Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile Virus will develop West Nile fever, which is typically characterized by fever, headache, and body aches and which can last for just a few days or as long as several weeks. Less than one percent of people bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of the disease. People most at risk for developing severe disease are those over 50 and those with already compromised immune systems; however, all residents should continue to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Protective Mosquito Control Measures:
• Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear insect repellents, according to product labels, especially if you will be outside between the hours of dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear long, lose fitting, light colored clothing.
• Wear long sleeves and long pants to help avoid mosquito bites. Avoid mosquito infested areas.
• Install and inspect window and door screens in homes and stables and repair any holes found.
• Remove standing water from flower pots, tarps, trash receptacles, and other containers.
• Vaccinate horses, mules, donkeys and ratites (flightless birds) according to your veterinarian’s advice.
• Place dogs on a heartworm preventive program in consultation with your veterinarian.
• Regularly clean bird baths and bowls for pet food and water.
• Remove unnecessary water-holding containers.
There are several diseases that mosquitoes can transmit, not just West Nile virus (WNV). These include heartworm disease in dogs and several viruses that cause encephalitis in horses. Currently, there is no WNV vaccine for humans. There are, however, effective vaccines for horses, ostriches and emus - also known as ratites. Owners are encouraged to get their animals vaccinated and boostered in a timely manner in consultation with their veterinarian.
Dog owners are also urged to have their pets checked for heartworms, a common disease transmitted by mosquitoes in Maryland. Dogs in all Maryland jurisdictions should be placed on a heartworm preventive program. Pet owners should consult with their veterinarians.
For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, contact your local health department. The following websites are available to provide additional information:
• DHMH, www.dhmh.maryland.gov or http://ideha.dhmh.md.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/west-nile.aspx
• MDA, http://www.mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/mosquito_control/index.php
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/westnile
For additional information about MDA’s mosquito control program, please call 410-841-5870.
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