Mosquito bite protection tips due to malaria cases in Sarasota County

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Malaria concerns are growing after four confirmed cases have been recorded just slightly north of Southwest Florida.

All those affected by the mosquito-transmitted disease have recovered. Nevertheless, people want to know how to avoid the infection.

A simple way to avoid mosquitos is to stay inside around dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active. Also, you should stay away from small pools of water where the insects breed. Dump out any small body of water you may have in your yard.

Wearing long sleeves and pants are good ways to avoid getting bitten if you do go outside. Also, wearing mosquito repellent can be an effective measure to reduce the chances of getting bitten.

WINK News spoke with Dr. Rebecca Heinig, the director of research for Collier Mosquito Control District, about the disease and insects.

“But because we know it’s here, we test mosquitoes every single week to make sure that we’re not going to have a problem in the district,” said Dr. Heinig.

Dr. Heinig and her team are on the lookout because the Florida Department of Health found four cases of Malaria in Sarasota County.

“Malaria is transmitted directly from the Anopheles mosquito. It can bite a person that’s infected with malaria, and then they will get infected. That mosquito can then bite other people, and they will transmit the disease to those people,” said Dr. Heinig.

That’s why it’s important to protect yourself. July is in the heart of the rainy season, meaning there is an increased level of mosquitos in the area.

“If you’re going to be outside celebrating the Fourth of July, just make sure you’re protecting yourselves from mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves and long pants if you can and wearing insect repellent,” said Andrea McKinney, a public outreach specialist for Collier Mosquito Control District.

Dr. Todd Winslow with FGCU told WINK News the symptoms of malaria can include fever, fatigue, body aches and nausea. However, some people who get infected with malaria can also be asymptomatic.

Dr. Winslow’s best advice is to stay inside at dusk and overnight when mosquitos are most active.

“Avoiding mosquito bites is the primary way that you prevent malaria,” said Dr. Winslow.

Some other ways to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos include repairing any broken screens, windows, doors or patios. Using mosquito netting can be effective in protecting anyone younger than 2 months old.

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