San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 15th, 2010
City recommends precautions against mosquitos

STAFF REPORT

City of San Marcos environmental health officials have received 27 calls this year, including 15 in the last two months, from citizens concerned about misquito problems.

The city has reported no health problems as a result. However, considering that mosquitos are known to carry viruses under certain conditions, the city is advising residents to check around their homes and neighborhoods for standing water and high weeds to combat mosquitoes where they live. Residents also are advised to use insect repellant when they are outdoors.

“We are encouraging all residents to develop prevention strategies by making surveys of their property and eliminating any standing water that may be present,” said Mark Brinkley, the city’s assistant director of community services — environmental health.

When the weather will allow, Brinkley urges residents to keep grass mowed to 12 inches or less. Mosquitoes like to hide out in tall grass and weeds during the day. City spraying schedules have been created in the event it becomes necessary to protect the public health.

With heavy rains and recent flooding in parts of Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recommends that people take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

All standing water is a possible breeding source for illness-causing mosquitoes. As little as two tablespoons of water is all it takes.

Health officials recommend that residents use insect repellants that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Placing insect repellant at the front and back doors will make it available for application before going outside.

Homes can be mosquito-proofed by making sure door seals are secure and window screens are intact. Also, time spent outdoors from dusk to dawn should be limited, as that is the time of day when mosquitoes likely to carry infections are most active.

Standing water around homes should be drained. Empty cans, buckets, tires, bottles, rain gutters and flower pot bases should be drained regularly, and the water in pet bowls, bird baths and wading pools should be changed several times per week. Soda cans are great places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

The city’s environmental health Department has not begun spraying for adult mosquitoes in San Marcos.

“Mosquitoes are much easier to control in the larval stage than in the adult stage,” said Robert Piper, chief sanitarian for the city’s environmental health division. “It’s important for citizens to get rid of standing water and to mow weeds — places where mosquitoes breed and larvae develop.”

Though the department has done no neighborhood wide spraying, it has used a larvacide in areas with standing water that have no other aquatic life.

“This product will control mosquito larva for up to 30 days,” Piper said. “If mosquito complaints grow into a public health issue, we will start spraying, but so far we have been able to control them with less drastic means.”

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