Preventing mosquito borne illness - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Preventing mosquito borne illness

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A group of mosquitos flying A group of mosquitos flying
Elkhart County -

Mosquitos are more than just pesky; they can make you sick. Though there's been concern lately about Chikungunya Virus, experts say mosquito borne illnesses, like West Nile, may not be as dangerous as scientists once thought.

"They didn't know how much it spread in humans. It ended up being not as much of a threat," Professor Andy Ammons, a Biology Professor at Goshen College, said.

Viruses like West Nile and Chikungunya can still be bad for people and the environment, though. The Elkhart County Health Department says they typically find mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus in about three of ten areas they test every year. And, this summer, we could have a large mosquito population.

"We had such a bad winter it killed off a lot of them, but as this weather goes on and we get more and more wet weather, the mosquitos will probably be pretty fierce," Professor Ammons said.

The Elkhart Parks Department says the County used to spray insecticide to kill of mosquitos, but Professor Ammons says that's no longer a common practice in the US.

"Those types of insecticides that arusually useded for things like mosquitoes, it can also kill a lot of beneficial insects and so there are more organic ways of dealing with mosquitos and other pests," Professor Ammons said.

There are many ways to protect yourself from mosquito born illnesses. Mosquitos lay eggs in stagnant water so it's important to empty any sources of still water in your neighborhood. Turning over buckets, pools, and other vessels before a rain storm can keep them mosquito free. You can also wear long sleeve shirts and pants and avoid going out at dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active. Finally, environmentalist Ethan Ehler says call the Health Department with any concerns.

"If you know of an abandoned pool or abandonedned property that is breeding mosquitos you can call the Health Department and we'll have the interns and myself go out and take a look," Ehler said.

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