Preventing Mosquito-Transmitted Disease

On this page:
Species of mosquitoes
Mosquito prevention throughout the year
How to protect yourself from mosquito bites
How to protect your environment from mosquitoes
How to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses when traveling

Species of mosquitoes

We have approximately 50 different species of mosquitoes living in Minnesota but only a few species are capable of spreading disease to humans. For example:

  • Culex tarsalis is the main vector that spreads West Nile virus to Minnesotans.
  • La Crosse virus is spread to humans by the tree-hole mosquito, Aedes triseriatus.
  • Jamestown Canyon virus is likely spread by several different species of Aedes mosquitoes in Minnesota.

Mosquito species such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are associated with warmer climates and are not currently established in this state. Minnesota residents who travel to other countries or certain areas of the southern United States may be at risk for mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika virus.

In addition, people who travel to certain areas of South America, Africa, and South Asia may be at risk for malaria which is a serious disease that is transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. Travelers to foreign countries may also be at risk for other less common mosquito-transmitted diseases so it is important to know how to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses when traveling.

Mosquito prevention throughout the year

Spring:spring

  • Spring is the perfect time of year in Minnesota for residents to get outside and do yardwork!
  • All mosquitoes need water to complete their development and some may use small water-holding containers near your home to do so. 
  • Removing or dumping out water-holding containers in the spring can reduce breeding areas for disease-carrying mosquitoes and prevent illness later this summer.
  • How to protect your environment from mosquitoes

Mid-summer through early fall (July through September):summer

  • The highest risk period when mosquitoes may spread disease to humans in Minnesota is mid-summer through early fall.
  • Most of the populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes are higher at this time of year and the viruses that cause disease have had time to become widespread in these mosquitoes.
  • It is especially important to avoid mosquito bites throughout the summer and fall
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites

Winter:winter

  • In winter, Minnesotans often love to travel to warmer places.
  • While Minnesota residents who travel to tropical regions may be at risk for mosquito-borne disease at any time of year, winter is an easy time for us to forget about mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry.
  • Before you travel, it is important for you to be aware of any mosquito-borne diseases that are circulating in the area, where those mosquitoes are commonly found, and how to prevent them from biting you while you are on your trip.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses when traveling

How to protect yourself from mosquito bites

Use a safe and effective mosquito repellent:

  • Wear mosquito repellent containing DEET (up to 30%).
    Concentrations up to 30 percent DEET are also safe for children (according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Do not use insect repellent on infants under two months of age.
  • Apply repellents containing permethrin to your clothing or gear.
    Do not use permethrin on your skin.
    Several products are available as sprays,solutions, or commercially-impregnated clothing.
  • Other alternatives are available, including picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
    Only use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Follow the product label and reapply as directed.
  • Wash off repellents when you return indoors.

Wear loose fitting, light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants.

  • Head nets can also be used in areas with high mosquito populations.

Avoid outdoor activity, if possible, or be sure to wear repellent during peak mosquito feeding times:

  • Dawn and dusk for Culex tarsalis mosquitoes that can spread West Nile virus
  • Daytime for Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes that can spread La Crosse virus.

Video: MDH Know How: How To Apply DEET And Permethrin Products

Watch this 3 minute video that demonstrates the correct way to use and apply DEET products and Permethrin products used for insect repellent.

How to protect your environment from mosquitoes

Inspect your property and turn over, cover, or throw out any items that could hold water: 

  • Tires
  • Buckets
  • Cans
  • Flower Pots and Saucers
  • Toys

Remove small pools of standing water from around your home:

  • Empty, scrub, and change the water in pet bowls, bird baths, fountains, and pools at least once a week.
  • Check gutters and clean out leaves frequently to make sure they aren’t plugged.
  • Tighten up loose tarps that could hold any water.
  • Tightly cover water storage containers (e.g. rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot lay eggs inside of it.
  • Fill water-holding tree holes with dirt or sand to prevent further mosquito breeding.

Keep mosquitoes out of your home:

  • Install and/or repair screens on windows and doors.
  • Use air conditioning when available.

How to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses when traveling

Before you travel, be aware of any mosquito-borne diseases that are circulating in the area:

Know where and when the mosquitoes that spread these diseases are most commonly found.

  • Dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika viruses:
    • Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are tropical mosquitoes that behave differently from mosquitoes that are typically found in Minnesota.
    • These mosquitoes may lay their eggs in natural or artificial habitats, including on the walls of water-holding containers. When water covers the eggs, they hatch and become adults in about a week.
    • Adult mosquitoes live inside and outside of homes.
    • These mosquitoes prefer to bite humans during the day and are most active after sunrise and before sunset.
    • Mosquito numbers are often low and bites can go unnoticed.
    • Urban areas are most at risk for large disease outbreaks since these mosquitoes have evolved to thrive alongside humans.
  • Malaria
    • Anopheles mosquitoes are found worldwide except Antarctica. These mosquitoes are found not only in malaria-endemic areas but also in areas where malaria has been eliminated.
    • These mosquitoes lay eggs directly on water in a variety of habitats such as marshes, swamps, ditches, the edges of streams, and temporary rain pools.
    • Most Anopheles mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn. Some species prefer to feed indoors while others prefer to feed outdoors.

Travelers should protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • How to protect yourself from mosquito bites
  • Stay indoors in screened or air conditioned rooms.
  • Sleep under a bed net if the bedroom is exposed directly to the outdoors.
  • Use mosquito netting over infant carriers, cribs, and strollers.

More about mosquito-transmitted illness prevention

  • CDC: Avoid Mosquito Bites
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends several options to prevent mosquito-borne disease by avoiding mosquito bites when traveling to affected areas. Attention: Non-MDH link
  • The American Mosquito Control Association
    The AMCA has additional suggestions for controlling mosquitoes and decreasing the risk of acquiring a mosquito-transmitted disease. Attention: Non-MDH link
  • Metropolitan Mosquito Control District
    The MMCD provides a variety of mosquito control services to people living in the seven county Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area. Attention: Non-MDH link
  • EPA: Mosquito Control
    The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers several different methods of mosquito control, including information on how to find a repellent that is right for you. Attention: Non-MDH link

 

Updated Wednesday, April 06, 2016 at 08:09AM