State cautions West Nile still a threat

The State Mosquito Management Program announced that mosquitoes trapped in East Haven have tested positive for West Nile virus. The mosquito problem is expected to increase through fall and residents are urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

State officials warn that pets and livestock also are vulnerable to West Nile and there is no vaccine to help prevent it.

Once again, common sense and daily monitoring of your property could help reduce mosquito breeding around your home.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offers these tips to help control the mosquito population.

•    Dispose of cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.

•    Empty standing water from unused or discarded tires (tire swings) that might be on your property.

•    Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors.

•    Clean clogged roof gutters annually, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains.

•    Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. A wading pool becomes a major mosquito producer if it is not used on a regular basis.

•    Do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths or wading pools.

•    Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.

•    Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers or tarps.

Mosquito bites are annoying and uncomfortable, and now, with the threat of West Nile, they also can be dangerous.

You can reduce the risk of getting bitten by being aware of when mosquitoes are most active and avoiding contact.

The DEP offers these additional hints to keeping yourself, and your pets safe.

•    Minimize time outdoors at dusk and dawn.

•    Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts made with tightly woven material.

•    Campers, use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors.

•    Consider using mosquito repellent when you must be outdoors.

•    When using DEET, choose the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors — 6% lasts about two hours and 20% will protect you for about four hours. Wash the repellent off when you return indoors.

•    Check door and window screens to make sure they are tight fitting and in good repair.

By taking these precautions, you and your family should enjoy a bite-free summer.