Due to a combination of heavy rains and extreme heat, the St. Louis area is experiencing a mosquito population boom. Residents are urged to take precautions against these pesky insects that can carry diseases, such as West Nile and Chikungunya. It is worth noting, the health department said there have not been any human cases of West Nile in St. Louis County this year, though one mosquito did test positive. Two people have been infected with Chikungunya this year, but the health department said those two people contracted the disease elsewhere. Officials from the St. Louis County Public Health Department offered these tips for mosquito safety:
- Dump standing water. Likely collection places are garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools and pet dishes. Change bird bath water once a week.
- Keep gutters cleaned. Flexible downspout drain pipes are also a refuge for mosquitoes.
- Remove unkempt vegetation.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and light colors outdoors. Don’t be afraid to spray your clothing with repellents containing DEET or picaridin.
When using DEET or picaridin on yourself or children, follow these safety precautions:
- Do not use a single product containing both sunscreen and DEET — sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, while DEET should not be applied more than once a day.
- Concentrations higher than 30% are not more effective and the chemical (which is absorbed through the skin) can be toxic.
- If you apply insect repellent to exposed skin, do so sparingly. Do not apply repellent to kids’ hands — that way, they can’t ingest it if they put their hands in their mouth. It also can cause irritation if they touch their eyes.
- Avoid spraying the repellent anywhere near the mouth, so it can’t be ingested.
- Apply the repellant in an open area so that you and your child do not breathe it in.
- Wash your child’s skin with soap and water when you return indoors, and wash all clothing before it is worn again.