FORT WALTON BEACH — Mosquitoes can carry harmful viruses that cause serious illness in people. DOH-Okaloosa has an established partnership with the Okaloosa County Mosquito Control and works collaboratively to help protect and promote the health of residents and visitors.

There are routine steps all people should take to reduce the possibly risk of mosquito bites.

Dr. Karen A. Chapman, Director of DOH-Okaloosa. “The easiest way to remember how you can help eliminate mosquito bites is to "drain and cover.”

Drain

Draining standing water stops mosquitoes from multiplying.

●Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.

●Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that are not being used.

●Empty and clean birdbaths and pets' water bowls at least once or twice a week.

●Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that do not accumulate water.

●Maintain swimming pools in good condition with appropriate chlorination. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Cover

Covering is another step you can take. Cover your skin with clothing or repellent.

●Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.

●Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.

●Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective.

●Do not apply repellent to children younger than two months old. Use mosquito netting instead.

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.

●Keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

“Mosquitoes only need about a bottle cap or a magnolia leaf full of water to reproduce and can bite at all times of the day,” continued Dr. Chapman. “Whether you are around the house or traveling, staying consistent on protecting yourself and family with these simple steps is important.”

For more information on mosquito-borne and other insect-borne diseases, visit www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases.

For the more information about local mosquito control efforts or to access the mosquito spraying schedule for Okaloosa County, visit www.co.okaloosa.fl.us/pw/environmental/mosquito-control.