FRANKLIN AND WILLIAMSON COUNTIES, IL (KFVS) - A wet spring and fluctuating temperatures means mosquitoes and ticks are on the way - and with them come potentially deadly diseases.
The Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department, along with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois EPA are working together to educate the public on the prevention of those diseases, including the elimination of breeding sites for those insects.
Any location with water that becomes stagnant is a potential breeding site for mosquitoes. One of the most problematic areas is the accumulation of used tires, due to their design and tendency to hold water and leaf litter, which easily function as "incubators" for mosquito larvae.
The Bi-County Health Department suggests residents purchase approved larvicide products that can be placed around homes in areas of standing water, to help curtail mosquitoes in their yards.
As in past years, the Bi-County Health Department will also collect certain birds for West Nile virus testing, through the Illinois Department of Public Health.
If a Franklin or Williamson County resident notices a dead "perching bird", crow, blue jay, or robin on their property, contact the health department at (618) 439-0951 or (618) 993-8111. The bird should not have any signs of trauma that could have otherwise caused the death, and cannot be decomposed.
Bi-County Health is also reminding residents to take preventative measures to protect themselves and their families from mosquito-borne illnesses.
Health officials say reducing exposure is key. Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active, if possible. If outdoors at these times, wear socks with shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Loose-fitting, light colored clothing works best.
Officials also say to make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, and to replace or repair screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
Officials also say to use repellents when outdoors, ideally those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Mosquitoes can develop in any standing water that is present for more than five days. To eliminate mosquitoes on your property, eliminate stagnant water in birdbaths, ponds, flower pots, old tires, pool covers, neglected swimming pools, child's wading pools, and any other receptacles where water might collect.
Fill in or drain any low places, like puddles or ruts, i your yard. Cover trash cans to keep out rainwater.
Grass should be cut short, and shrubbery well-trimmed around the house, so adult mosquitoes cannot reside there.
For any information about West Nile virus, visit the Bi-County Health Department's website
. For questions or concerns about West Nile virus, contact Bi-County Health at (618) 439-0951 or (618) 993-8111. For additional information, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health's website
Ticks can transmit a number of diseases through their bite, so people should also be diligent about using personal protective measures and insect repellent when they are outdoors.
Ticks live in and near wooded areas, tall grass and brush. If infected, ticks can transmit diseases like ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and Lyme disease through their bites.
A person who experiences a rash or unexplained illness, accompanied by a fever following a tick bite, should consult a medical professional. If left untreated, some tick borne diseases can cause severe illness and may become fatal.
The best way to protect against tick borne illness is by taking precautions, like wearing light or white-colored clothing so that ticks on clothing might be easier to see, tucking long pants into socks and boots, wearing a head covering, applying insect repellent directly to clothes, walking in the center of trails, and being sure to frequently check yourself, children, and pets for ticks every two to three hours.
Be sure to remove any tick found on you promptly. Do NOT try to burn the tick with a match, or cover it with petroleum jelly or nail polish. Do not use bare hands.
The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it with fine-point tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick.
If tweezers are not available, grasp the tick with a piece of cloth or whatever can be used as a barrier between your fingers and the tick.
Put the tick in a jar of rubbing alcohol and label it with the date and location of the bite, in case a medical professional wishes to have the tick identified.
Wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water; apply an antiseptic to the bite area.
Keep your grass mowed and keep weeds cut around your home.
Know the symptoms of tick borne diseases and consult your physician if you have a fever and a rash or unexpected flu-like illness following a tick bite.
For more information about tick borne diseases, visit the CDC website
. For questions or concerns about ticks, contact Bi-County Health at (618) 439-0951 or (618) 993-8111 or visit the Bi-County Health Department's website