The monsoon rains have arrived and it's time to protect yourself and your pets against mosquitoes. For nearly the entire country, mosquitoes are a familiar foe. The arrival of mosquitoes and other pests signifies an increased risk of heartworm disease, West Nile Virus (for those of us in the Southwest) and many other health problems.The strongest defense is a good offense. Keep your pets on a strict heartworm medication program, ensure your pets are current on vaccinations, practice regular grooming and use an effective, all-naturall insect repellant.
In the Southwest, mosquito fogging has already started due to mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus. This means that the city will be coming through in the early hours of morning to fog entire neighborhoods.
According to Pinal County officials in Arizona, the pesticide that will be used during fogging is called Anvil. It is a pre-mixed, ready-to-use product that contains two active ingredients: Sumithrin (2%) and piperonyl butoxide (2%). Sumithrin is a man-made version of a natural pesticide found in chrysanthemum flowers. Piperonyl butoxide enhances the ability of Sumithrin to kill mosquitoes. Anvil is registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency and is effective against the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.
If you are in an area that fogs streets, there are several things that residents can do to reduce exposure:
- Bring pets indoors.
- Close all windows and doors. Air conditioners can still be operated, but if they have vents to bring in outside air, they should be closed. Turn off evaporative coolers.
- Stay inside your home.
- Thirty minutes after the end of the scheduled fogging each night, you may resume normal activities.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile virus can cause severe illness in people and horses, although not everyone who is infected will develop symptoms. People of all ages can be affected however, the elderly may be more prone to serious illness.
Follow these simple personal precautions to avoid mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry:
- Avoid outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active, wear lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs and use an insect repellent containing an EPA registered active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the label.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and remain closed. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes in them.
- Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around the home by removing standing water in potted plants, tires, bird baths and other containers where water may collect.
- Ensure that swimming pools and decorative water features are properly maintained.
- Change water in flowerpots, birdbaths and pet watering bowls located outdoors at least twice per week.
West Nile Virus in Species
- Horses and birds are most susceptible to West Nile Virus and should be immediately treated if any signs present.
- Dogs and cats are not as susceptible to the virus, but if symptoms do present, you should take your pet into the veterinarian for treatment. According to the CDC, some infected cats exhibit mild, nonspecific symptoms during the first week after infection--for the most part only showing a slight fever and slight lethargy.
- Be sure your pets are current on vaccinations and on a strict heartworm preventative schedule. The heartworm medication will fight against mosquitoes by destroying larvae.
- Use an all-natural, veterinarian approved mosquito repellent on dogs and cats. It's also helpful to keep animals indoors as much as possible.
- Most animals will not show symptoms but if any present, you should effectively manage them as they occur. This includes respiratory and depression in dogs and cats.
- Approximately, 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with West Nile will not show any symptoms at all.
- Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
- About one in 150 people infected with West Nile will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
If mosquitoes are a problem in your area, the local County should have a mosquito hotline and a webpage. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also has helpful information in protecting pets against mosquitoes.