June 6, 2022 Contact: Adam Gaub
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 520-405-9541
GASTONIA — Warm weather is here, which means mosquito populations are on the rise. Gaston County Public Health’s mosquito control program aims to help increase awareness of mosquito prevention techniques.
In addition to providing education and support to county residents to control mosquito populations on their properties, staff are also working to trap and identify local mosquitoes to provide more information about the best strategies for elimination.
The program was launched in 2017, and since then, more than 80 nights of trapping has led to the collection of over 1,400 specimens. Twenty-four species have been identified in the county and staff are currently setting traps at Goat Island, Rankin Lake, and have recently added Crowders Mountain to the list. In addition to trapping and identification, staff also handle complaints and can work with residents to provide education around prevention.
The most common mosquito-borne illnesses in North Carolina are West Nile virus infection, eastern equine encephalitis and La Crosse encephalitis. North Carolina reported the second-highest number of LAC cases in the United States between 2011–2020. Gaston County has identified cases of West Nile virus locally.
Nearly 70% of mosquito-borne infections reported in the state in 2021 were acquired during travel outside the continental United States, including 32 cases of malaria and three cases of dengue. There were no cases of Zika virus infection reported in North Carolina in 2021; to date, all cases of Zika reported in North Carolina have been associated with travel outside of the continental United States.
To reduce exposure to mosquitoes:
- Use an EPA registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
- Consider treating clothing and gear (such as tents) with 0.5% permethrin.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors and use air conditioning if possible.
- Talk with your primary care provider or local health department if you plan to travel to an area where exotic mosquito-borne diseases occur.
- Always check your destination to identify appropriate prevention methods.
- Reduce mosquito breeding by using the "Tip and Toss" method of emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least once a week. Most mosquitoes only travel short distances for a blood meal. Consider locating areas in your own yard that could contribute to the mosquito problem.
- If you have pest control, discuss all options for the best products for mosquito control and consider changing pesticides to better control prevent resistance.
If you have questions or would like to speak to someone about a mosquito issue, call Gaston County Public Health at (704) 853-5200.