Each summer, mosquitoes are a familiar biting pest in backyards, parks and campgrounds. Most are merely a nuisance and are not major vectors of diseases. In fact, only a few of the 59 species of mosquitoes in Ohio can transmit disease. However, the diseases these mosquitoes can carry are very serious ones, such as encephalitis and malaria in humans and heartworm in dogs. Therefore, it is always advisable to take preventive measures to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites.
Mosquito-borne diseases that may occur locally in Ohio include:
Mosquito-borne diseases that may be imported into Ohio (travel-acquired) include:
The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. Being aware of mosquito and mosquito-borne disease activity in your area allows you to take action to protect yourself and others.
Avoid mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellent when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions. More information about repellents can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
- When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
- Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Mosquito proof your home:
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths on a regular basis.
Help your community mosquito surveillance and control programs:
- Support your local community mosquito control programs. Mosquito control activities are most often handled at the local level, such as through county or city government. The type of mosquito control methods used by a program depends on the time of year, the type of mosquitoes to be controlled and the habitat structure. Methods can include elimination of mosquito larval habitats, application of insecticides to kill mosquito larvae or spraying insecticides from trucks or aircraft to kill adult mosquitoes. Your local mosquito control program can provide information about the type of products being used in your area. Check with your local health department for more information.
- Report dead birds to local authorities. Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus and other arboviruses are circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area. By reporting dead birds to local health departments, you can play an important role in monitoring mosquito-borne diseases. Local agencies have different policies for collecting and testing birds, so check with your local health department to find information about reporting dead birds in your area.
Mosquito-borne disease surveillance guidelines:
Mosquito-borne disease prevention literature:
Last updated: 03/04/2016
Zoonotic Disease Program