West Nile Virus Prevention

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Epidemiology and Informatics
Public Health
 
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What would you like to do?

What you need to know

West Nile virus is a disease that infected mosquitoes can spread. The best ways to defend yourself:

  • Use repellent with DEET.
    • Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus also have approval from the CDC.
  • Wear pants and long sleeves.
  • Do not give mosquitoes a place to lay eggs or develop. Drain standing water

DEET Fact Sheet

Homeowner's Guide to Mosquito Control

Homeowners and General Public

Here are some preventive steps to take around your home.

  • Dispose of cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have collected on your property.
  • Pay special attention to discarded tires. Many mosquitoes breed in stagnant water in tires.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters regularly (spring and fall), particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees tend to plug up the drains. Roof gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. Stagnant water in a wading pool becomes a place for mosquitoes to breed.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and don't let water stagnate in birdbaths. Both provide breeding grounds for domestic mosquitoes.
  • Air out ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if you let them stagnate.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not in use. Leaving a swimming pool untended for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Even the covers for swimming pools may collect water and allow mosquitoes to breed.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Mosquitoes may breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.

Farmers and Ranchers

Is my farm a mosquito-breeding site?

Several habitats found on farms can support the production of mosquitoes. Mosquito larvae can develop in places like:

  • Watering troughs, small ponds,
  • Irrigation ditches,
  • Rain barrels,
  • Manure lagoons,
  • Ruts where farm equipment frequently travels, and
  • Any other areas where water can accumulate. Even hoof prints can provide a breeding habitat if they accumulate water.

Having livestock, nuisance animals (such as birds) and other animals close to mosquito-breeding sites increases the risk for the spread of disease in animals and humans.

How can I prevent mosquitoes from breeding?

There are many ways to get rid of mosquito breeding areas on farms. Examples below:

  • Improve drainage in irrigated areas.
  • Fill in ruts where farming equipment often travels with stones.
  • Make sure you clean watering troughs regularly.
  • Remove or empty often containers that accumulate water, including discarded tires.
  • Air out small ponds and stock them with fish. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission can help you determine which species of fish would be best.

If you cannot get rid of all the areas where mosquitoes can breed, larvicide is the most effective control technique. Several larvicides are well suited for farms, including:

  • Bacillus sphaericus,
  • B. thuringiensis israelensis (B.t.i.),
  • Temephos,
  • Growth regulators,
  • Oils and monomolecular films.

A private citizen is able to purchase and apply a general use pesticide product for their private use. This includes any larvicide for general use.

Applicators who apply pesticides for general or restricted use to control disease vectors (mosquitoes) for political subdivisions must have a license. This interpretation does not apply to a private individual who applies pesticide for their personal use.

An applicator can help you choose the best product for your situation and determine what type of control activities to conduct.

EPA - Pesticides and Mosquito Control (link)

Wastewater Treatment Operators

Is my wastewater treatment plant a mosquito-breeding site?

Plants that treat wastewater provide good breeding sites for mosquitoes. The nutrient-rich water in polishing ponds is an ideal breeding area for mosquitoes known to carry West Nile virus.

How can I prevent mosquitoes from breeding?

There are many ways to get rid of mosquito-breeding areas at wastewater treatment plants. Examples include:

  • Use stones or other fillers to fill ruts and low spots that result from heavy traffic areas. This will help eliminate puddles and other areas of standing water.

If you cannot eliminate all the areas where mosquitoes can breed, applying larvicide is the most effective control technique. Several larvicides are well suited for farms, including:

  • Bacillus sphaericus,
  • B. thuringiensis israelensis (B.t.i.),
  • Temephos,
  • Growth regulators,
  • Oils and monomolecular films.

Only certified pesticide applicators can apply these larvicides. An applicator can help you choose the best product for your situation and determine what type of control activities to conduct.

EPA - Pesticides and Mosquito Control (link)

Tire Pile Owners

Is my tire pile a mosquito-breeding site?

Piles of tires piles provide suitable areas for mosquitoes to breed, including those who carry West Nile virus. When water accumulates in discarded tires, they become attractive sites for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

During the course of one season, just one tire can be a breeding site for thousands of mosquitoes. Transporting tires infested with mosquito eggs, larvae, or pupae increases the risk of spreading mosquito populations.

How can I prevent mosquitoes from breeding?

If there is a tire pile on your property, make sure that it does not create a nuisance. There are many ways to avoid mosquito breeding in tire piles.

Dispose of standing water in the tires. You can do this by properly storing tires under a tarp. Make sure that rainwater does not accumulate.

If you cannot get rid of all the areas where mosquitoes can breed, larvicide is the most effective control technique. Several larvicides are well suited, including:

  • Bacillus sphaericus,
  • B. thuringiensis israelensis (B.t.i.),
  • Temephos,
  • Growth regulators,
  • Oils and monomolecular films.

Only certified pesticide applicators can apply these larvicides. An applicator can help you choose the best product for your situation and determine what type of control activities to conduct.

EPA - Pesticides and Mosquito Control (link)

Government Officials

Building codes can play a key role in the fight against West Nile virus

Building codes adopted by local governments can play a key role in the fight against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. The International Code Council's International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) can help local officials enforce the cleanup of existing properties and combat the spread of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne viruses.

The IPMC has sections that directly address eliminating mosquito-breeding areas or preventing mosquitoes from entering buildings. It requires that property owners maintain vacant land "so as not to cause a blighting problem or adversely affect the public health or safety."

The IPMC:

  • Requires property to be graded and drained so that no stagnant water accumulates,
  • Discusses proper drainage of roofs and gutters,
  • Requires the presence and proper maintenance of insect screens,
  • Requires a proper closing device for swinging doors,
  • Deals with the accumulation and disposal of garbage and rubbish, and
  • Talks about the extermination of insects.

The IPMC contains a sample ordinance and administrative provisions. These can help in the adoption and enforcement processes.