HUNTSVILLE — Scott County Mayor Dale Perdue and Art Miller, director of the Scott County Health Department, urge residents and business owners to start “Tip and Toss” and “SWAT” actions to prevent mosquito breeding grounds.

“Mosquito season has started in Tennessee, presenting potential health problems for residents who could be bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes,” said Perdue. “To prevent mosquito breeding spots, we urge residents and business owners to do a cleanup near their homes and establishments, discarding or tipping over items than can unintentionally hold water that mosquitoes can use to lay eggs and multiply. A mosquito can lay her eggs in something as small as a plastic soda bottle top, so tossing these types of items into the trash could help prevent you or someone else from suffering a mosquito bite.”

“Most mosquitoes rarely travel much farther than the length of two football fields, a little more than 200 yards from where they are born. Having a SWAT plan in place – Standing Water Abatement Tactics – can prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs and then living near your home or business,” director Miller said. “By eliminating standing water, we can reduce our chances of suffering a mosquito bite, which is not just an itchy irritation, but may cause the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.”

Tennessee is home to many types of blood-sucking mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are capable of transmitting several serious diseases. At this time, mosquitoes in Tennessee are not transmitting Zika virus disease, which has been associated with birth defects. Mosquitoes here, however, are known carriers of other diseases seen each year in Tennessee, including West Nile and La Crosse encephalitis. They also carry dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya virus although not currently in Tennessee.

“While there’s reason for concern and a need to prevent mosquito breeding places, there’s good news for all of us: Mosquito bites are entirely preventable,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Prevention starts with wearing long, loose and light clothing; treating exposed skin with safe and effective repellents; and using clothing treated with permethrin in risk areas. Now, more than ever, we all need to ‘fight the bite.’”

TDH recommends the following:

•Apply repellants to skin often; these can include lotions, liquids or sprays. TDH and CDC recommend use of repellants which contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane 3, 8-diol and IR3535. Duration of protection varies by repellant; read labels on products to determine when reapplications are necessary for optimal protection.

•Wear long, loose and light-colored shirts and pants and wear socks. Tucking shirts in pants and tucking pants into socks will help form a barrier. Wear closed shoes or boots instead of sandals.

•Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated permethrin clothing.

•Avoid perfumes, colognes and products with fragrances that might attract mosquitoes.

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in larger water holding devices, such a bird baths or garden pools, TDH recommends using larvicides such as mosquito torpedoes or mosquito dunks. If used properly, larvicides will not harm birds or animals.

“Our efforts in Scott County will complement and support ongoing work in every county of the state to reduce or eliminate disease-carrying mosquitoes,” Perdue stated. “We can’t think of mosquito bites as mere nuisances; they could cause illness or even death, particularly among the very young, older people or those with weakened immune systems. We owe it to our neighbors to tip, toss and SWAT near our homes and businesses, and to be more deliberate in our personal ‘fight the bite’ efforts.”