The best way for residents to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around the home and take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. Sometimes, mosquitoes carry diseases such as West Nile Virus. Another is the Zika virus. The Zika virus is spreading rapidly through Latin America. While most people experience either mild or no symptoms, Zika is suspected of causing a devastating birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had the Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and birth defects is evolving, but until more is known, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends special precautions for pregnant women.
The Maricopa County Vector Control office advises that the best thing each of us can do to protect ourselves and our families from this and other mosquito-related diseases is to prevent getting bit by mosquitoes and to eliminate breeding sites on our own property. The Maricopa County Department of Public Health has a section on mosquito-borne diseases that includes information on Zika and a link to a CDC website containing additional information. Eradication measures are the same as with West Nile Virus; traps are monitored for the mosquito that carries Zika, and if found in enough numbers, insecticide spraying is scheduled for that area. Residents can call the County's mosquito hotline (602-506-0700) to report concentrations of mosquitos, in which case County Vector Control can set up traps to determine if spraying is needed.
Here are a few tips from the Maricopa County Vector Control office on ways to eliminate mosquito breeding and reduce the risk of bites:
- Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
- Check for items outside the home that collect water, such as cans, bottles, buckets, old tires and other containers.
- Change water in flower vases, birdbaths, planters and animal watering pans at least twice a week.
- Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets, and move air conditioner drain hoses frequently.
- Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes when going outside at night by using insect repellant with DEET. Wear lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs.
For more information (mosquito-related diseases, reporting green pools or dead birds, to file a mosquito-related complaint, register on the Fogging Notification System), call 602-506-0700, or visit www.FightTheBiteMaricopa.org. You also can find out the latest news by following the County on Facebook.
Bird Surveillance for West Nile Virus
Because West Nile Virus causes death in birds, we expect dead birds to be the first warning of West Nile Virus activity in an area. Since West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes feeding on infected birds, Maricopa County will be testing dead bird specimens for its presence.
The Maricopa County Environmental Services Division (MCESD) will record and analyze dead bird reports, which will be used to identify areas for intensified surveillance of virus activity including bird testing, mosquito trapping and active disease surveillance.
If you should find a dead bird, please report it to the West Nile Virus Hotline at 602-506-0700.
Upon submitting a report, citizens will be advised of the delivery process.
Please note these guidelines:
1) The bird must be freshly dead (less than 24 hours)
2) Not scavenged, no odor, no maggots, ants or other insects
3) Body must NOT be soft and mushy
4) Must NOT be a baby bird
5) Must NOT be a pigeon
Birds must be kept chilled. Do not freeze. Freezing will kill the virus, if the virus is present. When handling the bird, please use gloves or the inverted plastic bag method.
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health has a West Nile Virus Public Information Hotline at 602-747-7500. The hotline operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week and provides current health information regarding the West Nile Virus.
The Centers for Disease Control also has a hotline manned by CDC operators from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Arizona time).
The phone numbers are: 888-246-2675 (English)