KCHD begins summer campaign to reduce mosquito bites

Knox County Health Department has launched a summer-long public health campaign, #MosquitoMonday, to reduce mosquito-borne illnesses, including the Zika virus.

“This is a special media campaign to cause awareness about how people can reduce the number of mosquitoes on their property,” Dr. Martha Buchanan, Knox County Health Department director, said.

During the campaign, KCHD will post tips and advice for residents each Monday on its Facebook and Twitter pages, Katharine Killen, KCHD Community Relations director, said.

“Our hope is that #Mosqui-toMonday will serve as a weekly reminder for residents to do what they can to prevent mosquito bites and reduce breeding grounds around their homes and businesses,” Buchanan said. “This campaign also should be a conduit for residents to find up-to-date, easily sharable information about the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses.”

Mosquitoes are most active in the summer and when the area has more rain, she said.

“Every year, we have a vector control program that focuses on the West Nile virus, which is carried by a different mosquito than the one carrying Zika virus,” Buchanan said.

“Tennessee is home to many types of mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are capable of transmitting the Zika virus and several other diseases,” Killen said. “Farragut is no different than anywhere else in the county.

“We have traps across the county, including Farragut,” Buch-anan said. “We test the mosquitoes in the traps to find out if they are carrying West Nile virus. If they test positive, we spray that area.

“We have been doing that for years, and we’re going to keep doing it.”

There have been no sprayings this year so far.

“We started collecting [mosquitoes] in May,” she said. “We can only test for West Nile.”

While there have been no reported cases of Zika or other mosquito-borne illnesses in Ten-nessee as of mid-July, Killen said mosquitoes found in Tennessee are known carriers of other diseases, including West Nile and La Crosse encephalitis.

Mosquitoes also can carry dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya virus but currently are not found in Tennessee, Killen said.

Knox County Health Depart-ment urges residents and businesses to:

• Weekly discard, empty or tip over containers and other items that can unintentionally hold water on residents’ or businesses’ property. Those items may include tires, cans, flowerpots, children’s toys and trash cans.

• Apply mosquito repellents often. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends us-ing repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane 3, 8-diol and IR3535.

• Wear long, loose and light-colored shirts and pants and wear socks.

• Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated permethrin clothing.

• Fill in hollow tree stumps and rot holes with sand or concrete. These holes are common breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito.

• Use larvicides, such as mosquito torpedoes or mosquito dunks, in water-holding devices, such as bird baths or garden pools. If used properly, larvicides will not harm animals.

• Check CDC’s travel webpage before traveling outside the United States. Be aware of diseases impacting a travel destination and take steps to prevent infection.

Buchanan said the cases that have appeared in the United States have been from people who contracted illnesses from another country.

For more information, visit knoxcounty.org/health.