After Hurricane Dorian dumped several inches of rain across eastern North Carolina, some communities have had noticed an increase in mosquito populations.
Earlier this week, Pitt County started ground control operations and activated a mosquito complaint hotline so residents can report problem areas. Environmental health officials have noticed an increase in floodwater mosquito species Psorophora Cliliate and Psorophora Columbiae caught in traps spread throughout the county. Floodwater mosquitoes typically appear a couple of weeks after significant rainfall events, said James Gardener, the Pitt County vector control manager.
"There are pockets here and there that had enough floodwater to reach the eggs and there are a few pockets around the county where I have seen higher numbers than would be normal background numbers for those floodwater species."
In Craven County, there's been a slight uptick in the number mosquitoes. Two mosquito traps were put out in different areas of the county before and after Hurricane Dorian. After the storm, the traps showed a rise in mosquito numbers, according to environmental health specialist Jacob Kendall.
"We particularly saw a rise in nuisance mosquitoes like Psorophora Ciliata (AKA gallinipper), Psorophora Ferox, and Psorophora columbiae. While these mosquitoes are larger than most other species and their bites are painful, they are not known to carry and transmit any human diseases."
Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one tablespoon of water. Kendall recommended that residents follow the "Tip and Toss" rule and empty birdbaths, kids pools, and flower pots.
Pamlico County is reporting very little mosquito activity right now, but Scott Lenhart, the County's Health Director said in an email they are taking preventative measures to keep mosquito numbers in check.
"We started to larvicide with Mosquito Dunks the day after Dorian passed. We are currently continuing the monitoring and larvicide throughout the county. Resident can pick up mosquito dunks at the Environmental Health office while supplies last."
Lenhart added that the county continues to monitor mosquito populations daily. Mosquito Dunks are also available at the Craven County Health Department.
State Health officials are encouraging residents to eliminate any standing water around your home to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses. According to a news release from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, there are no vaccines licensed for use in humans against mosquito-borne viruses that may be acquired in North Carolina, and no specific medications to cure a person that is infected by a mosquito. La Crosse encephalitis is the most common virus spread by mosquitoes in North Carolina. Here is a list of recommendations from DHHS on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
- Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET or other EPA approved ingredients when outside; use caution when applying to children and always follow the instructions on the label.
- Dress children in clothing that covers their arms and legs.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed; if you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.