In 1975, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health instituted its Mosquito Control Program in response to a local outbreak of mosquito-borne encephalitis. Encephalitis is a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. In Ohio, there are three prevalent mosquito-borne viruses that cause encephalitis. LaCrosse Encephalitis (LAC) virus is transmitted between small woodland animals and mosquitoes. St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) and West Nile Virus (WNV) are transmitted between several species of mosquitoes and wild birds. Humans are at risk of acquiring encephalitis if bitten by a female mosquito that is infected with either virus. LAC is usually an infection in young children between the ages of one and fourteen. SLE and the WNV are a more serious concern for the elderly.
Currently, outbreaks of Zika virus are occurring in many countries. No locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers. The Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread Dengue and Chikungunya viruses.
Early symptoms of mosquito-borne disease may include nausea, fever, vomiting, and/or headache. These symptoms usually develop in approximately two weeks. More serious cases include drowsiness, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, tremors, and convulsions (especially in infants). Diagnosis of encephalitis can only be made through laboratory testing. Consult your physician if any or all of these symptoms occur, especially during the peak months of virus transmission, which are June through October.
Things We Do
- Sanitarians and trained Mosquito Control Technicians survey areas to identify the level of mosquito breeding and adult mosquito populations.
- They treat areas of standing water that may act as potential mosquito breeding sites. These include catch basins, roadside ditches, and woodland pools. Treating standing water will prevent the immature mosquitoes (larvae) from becoming adults.
- Our staff responds to individual complaints regarding standing water and heavy adult mosquito populations. Educational materials and recommendations are provided to homeowners to help lessen the potential for exposure to mosquitoes that may carry disease.
- Adult mosquito surveillance (trapping) is also conducted throughout the county to monitor adult mosquito populations and potential disease activity.
- Adult mosquitoes are submitted to the Ohio Department of Health for West Nile Virus testing. This information is utilized to help the Board of Health and local community officials determine necessary steps to protect the public from disease.
Help Mosquito Control by
- Disposing of containers that collect water (buckets, tires, cans, etc.)
- Eliminating areas of standing water
- Repairing leaky outdoor faucets that may leave puddles
- Emptying bird baths at least once a week
- Keeping pools and spas in good operating condition or covered
- Draining and unclogging gutters
- Filling tree holes with tar or cement
You Can Minimize Contact with Mosquitoes by
- Tightly screening all openings of your home
- Keeping children indoors during times of high mosquito activity (1 hour before and 1 hour after sunset)
- Routinely reapplying an insect repellent containing 30% DEET (diethyl-m-toluamide) for adults. Children and pregnant women should utilize a product with a lower concentration (10%) of DEET.
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever possible to cover exposed skin.
Follow manufacturer directions for the application of insect repellents. All of the EPA-registered active ingredients have demonstrated repellency, however some provide more longer lasting protection than others. Additional research reviewed by CDC suggests that repellents containing DEET or picaridin typically provide longer-lasting protection than the other products. Oil of lemon eucalyptus provides longer lasting protection than other plant-based repellents. Permethrin is another long-lasting repellent that is intended for application to clothing and gear, but not directly to skin. In general, the more active ingredient (higher concentration) a repellent contains, the longer time it protects against mosquito bites.
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of mosquito-borne encephalitis is important to a patient's recovery. If you feel that you may have been exposed to the encephalitis virus, consult a physician immediately.
Joe Lynch, RS, MPH
(216) 201-2000 ext. 1241