Heavy rains breed mosquitoes

The recent heavy rains in the Capital Region have not only caused significant flooding but have also

The recent heavy rains in the Capital Region have not only caused significant flooding but have also spawned swarms of mosquitoes.

The annoying, stinging insects hatch in standing water, such as puddles in backyards, shallow ponds and flooded drainage ditches.

“We have had calls from people asking ‘Is this usual, what can I do about it?’ ” said Jennifer Hallisey, an epidemiologist with the state Department of Health.

Calls to state officials increased after Tropical Storm Irene soaked the area Aug. 28 and more heavy rain fell a week later.

“With all the standing water, within days you get a lot of mosquitoes,” said Bryan Cherry, an insect surveillance unit director for the state Health Department.

The mosquitoes, depending on the species, start hatching anywhere between three days and two weeks after heavy rains and warm temperatures, he said.

The average life span of a mosquito is between 10 and 14 days, he said.

The good news for people irritated by the insects is that much cooler weather is moving into the region from Canada and the Great Lakes. The Capital Region could even see some frost on the ground by Saturday morning with low temperatures near 32 in parts of Schenectady, Saratoga and Albany counties, said Thomas Wasula, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.

“That definitely should cut down on the bugs,” Wasula said.

When the air temperatures drop into the 40s, it slows down mosquito hatching and activity, Cherry said. Two nights of freezing temperatures will kill most of the mosquitoes, he said.

The swarms of insects have made walking in the woods a challenge and playing outdoor sports, such as soccer, field hockey and football, uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

Hallisey said as annoying as the mosquitoes are, the Capital Region has had no reports of mosquitoes carrying diseases like West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne infection, or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes.

However, the Health Department can’t rule out the risk of disease from mosquitoes, she said. Her message is: “prevention, prevention, prevention.”

The Health Department reported last month that a 4-year-old child in Oswego County died Aug. 14 from Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Peter Constantakes, a Health Department spokesman, said Thursday no cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been reported in the Capital Region. The highest risk areas for EEE are the Central New York counties of Onondaga, Oneida, Madison and Oswego, he said.

Constantakes said the child’s death in Oswego County last month was the first caused by EEE this year in the state.

The highest risk areas for West Nile virus are on Long Island and New York City. There have been no confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in the state this year.

“Mosquito bites should not be seen as harmless, and all New Yorkers should take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites over the remainder of the summer and through the fall,” said state Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah in a prepared statement.

Epidemiologist Hallisey said homeowners should remove all standing water from their yards.

People should dispose of used tires, tin cans, plastic containers, and anything else that collects water outside, according to the Health Department.

Other tips include cleaning vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.

The Health Department recommends people protect themselves from mosquitoes when outdoors by using an effective mosquito repellent and wearing long pants and long sleeves.

Categories: Schenectady County

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