Picayune receives grant to combat mosquitoes

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It was recently announced that the Mississippi State Department of Health has awarded several mosquito control support grants to various Mississippi municipalities, including the city of Picayune.

According to an MSDH press release, Picayune received $76,527 in funding to help combat mosquitoes this year. The grant is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The grants focus on areas in Mississippi with historically high mosquito activity, but which lack resources to control mosquito-borne diseases because of insufficient funding, equipment, supplies or trained personnel,” the release states. “These grants are part of the $350 million in funding provided to CDC under the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act of 2016.”

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Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance – they act as a carrier of infectious diseases including dengue, chikungunya and zika. Zika in particular is a concern, since it has increased significantly in numbers since 2015, according to a CDC report.

“Zika virus infects people through the bite of a mosquito and can cause fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Zika infection can cause serious or fatal birth defects in the children of pregnant women, and the virus can be transmitted sexually,” the MSDH official website states.

While the virus is prevalent in various overseas countries, it has recently started moving into the United States, with the disease reaching a concerning level in 2016, according to the report by the CDC.

The MSDH gives several guidelines to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, as well as ways to control them around the home.

According to these guidelines, the first step is to be sure to use insect repellant when mosquitoes are present. The guidelines state that it is important to use repellent with specific, Environmental Protection Agency-registered active ingredients. These ingredients include DEET, Picaridin, Oil of lemon, eucalyptus and IR3535. The guidelines state that these active ingredients are safe and will not harm humans – including pregnant or breastfeeding women – when used correctly.

Next, remove sources of standing water. The guidelines recommend cleaning out items that hold water at least once a week, indoors and outdoors. Containers that cannot be dumped should be covered with a lid, or a wire mesh small enough that mosquitoes cannot squeeze through.

If a home has a septic tank, regularly check to make sure there are no serious cracks or openings. If there are any openings in the system, use a mesh to cover them.

Once mosquitoes are under control outdoors it will be easier to keep them out of the house.

“Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens. Use air conditioning when available,” the guidelines state.