Campus Urged to Beware of Mosquitoes

Campus Urged to Beware of Mosquitoes

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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(Photo credit: James Gathany, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta)
(Photo credit: James Gathany, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta)

If you're in the habit of pitching half-full soda bottles or leaving the lid on the trashcan open, it could come back to bite you, campus officials are warning.

With the mercury on the rise, peak mosquito season is upon us, and Campus Health and Risk Management & Safety at The University of Arizona are urging campus community members to take precautions – like sealing up trash and eliminating standing water – to protect against  mosquito bites and the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus has been present in Arizona's mosquito population since 2003, and while the chances of severe illness from the virus are rare, some of those infected could experience symptoms such as headache, fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, skin rash, backache, muscle ache, lack of appetite and swollen lymph nodes, according to a memo sent to campus this week by Campus Health Service Director Harry McDermott and Risk Management & Safety Director Steve Holland.

The memo outlines West Nile facts, risk factors and preventive measures, stating that 111 human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in Arizona 2008, up from 97 in 2007. Seventeen cases were reported in Pima County.

As an active partner with the Pima County Health Department's "Fight the Bite" efforts, the UA has entomology researchers conducting mosquito research, surveillance and community intervention projects to combat mosquito problems, while UA public health students work directly with the health department, according the memo.

On the UA campus, several efforts to reduce the mosquito population and spread of West Nile are under way. For example, Campus Health makes insect repellant available in its pharmacy. Campus custodians routinely flush indoor drains that could be breeding grounds for the insects. During warm months, Facilities Management does regular inspections of outdoor areas and applies safe mosquito larvicide to areas where there is known standing water, and Risk Management & Safety investigates mosquito-related complaints and coordinates responses with other campus units.

"We want to keep people aware that this is a risk issue," Holland said in an interview. "This area of the state does have West Nile Virus and the University is taking specific steps to manage mosquito populations."

In order to help "fight the bite," campus community members are urged to heed the following tips:

  • Report all mosquito concerns and outdoor standing water to Facilities Management at 621-3000 or online.
  • Flush all sinks and floor drains in your work area twice a week from May to November. Those working in labs are especially reminded of small sinks and fume hoods.
  • Do not put half-full soda containers in trash cans or recycling bins. Pour liquids out into the sink first.
  • Put a lid on garbage cans since mosquitoes like to hide in dark spaces.
  • Be aware of areas where water stands for more than a day or two.
  • Check windows, doors and screens to make sure they are in good repair.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants if you are outdoors from dusk to dawn.
  • Provide insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to employees who work outdoors.

The following Web sites contain information about the West Nile Virus:

Pima County Health Department 

Arizona Department of Health Services Division of Public Health Services 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention       

UA Risk Management & Safety 

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