FORT HOOD, Texas-Mosquito season is here, and Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s (CRDAMC) Environmental Health Services is asking Fort Hood residents to not tamper with neighborhood mosquito traps.
“The traps are vital for mosquito disease surveillance and protecting the Fort Hood community,” said Capt. Joseph Margotta, CRDAMC’s medical entomologist.
According to Margotta, mosquitos are aggressively flying around Fort Hood looking for locations to breed and feed.
“Being attacked by mosquitos is not uncommon for residents of Central Texas, but everyone should remember that these blood suckers can carry diseases,” he said.
Although mosquitos in Central Texas sometimes carry the West Nile and Zika viruses, Margotta said no mosquitos infected with the Zika virus have been found on Fort Hood. “We have trapped mosquitos infected with the West Nile virus, though,” he said.
To ensure the safety of everyone that lives and works at Fort Hood, Environmental Health Services conduct weekly mosquito surveillance from April through October on main post, West Fort Hood, North Fort Hood and the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.
After trapping the mosquitos, Preventive Medicine Specialists separate the female mosquitos from the males, because only female mosquitos seek blood meals from humans. The female mosquitos are then frozen and shipped to the Public Health Command at Fort Sam Houston. Here, the female mosquitos are tested for several different viruses mosquitos carry.
If a mosquito tests positive for a virus, CRDAMC Environmental Health Services personnel and the Department of Public Works will evaluate the risk to residents and devise a mitigation strategy.
“The reduction, elimination, or treatment of mosquito breeding sites are the safest, most cost efficient, and most effective techniques to control mosquito populations,” said Margotta, stressing reducing mosquito breeding areas is every resident’s responsibility. “Residents and personnel that work on Fort Hood should eliminate all standing water in yards and work areas. Mosquitos can effectively breed in very small amounts of water.”
He suggested residents review their surroundings and removing water from such common outdoor elements flowerpots, rain gutters, pet bowls, bird baths and small children’s pool.
“Even with the best mitigation strategies, mosquitos will still thrive. Taking extra precautions when outdoors can help reduce the risk of becoming a mosquito’s next meal.
If residents do come across a trap and have questions, contact information is listed on the trap.
Helpful hints in reducing mosquito bites:
- Insect repellents, such as 30 percent DEET, registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are safe and effective. The effectiveness of non-EPA registered natural repellents is unknown.
- Always follow product label instructions.
- Do not spray repellent on skin under clothing.
- Do not spray pets.
- If also using sunscreen, then apply sunscreen first and repellent second.
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
- Try to stay indoors at dusk and dawn, the times when mosquitoes actively bite.
- Wear loose-fitting long sleeves and pants if outdoors during active biting hours.