Managing nuisances: Mosquitoes, ticks and strays

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Despite continuous efforts by base agencies to mitigate the effects of mosquitoes, ticks and stray animals, they still present a nuisance; however there are ways that members of Team Incirlik can prevent being affected.

While the rainy season is over and it seems as though the number of mosquito bites on your arms and legs should start to dwindle down, the threat of the itchy insects is still prevalent due to wetter weather in recent months.

"Here, the rainy season is between October and April. It's odd that it rained here last month; and when it rains, (mosquito) breeding sites multiply," said Staff Sgt. Rommel Hernandez, 39th Medical Operations Squadron community health NCO in charge.

While there may still be an abundance of mosquitoes to swat at come dusk and dawn, "it's really low risk... We don't have anything distinguished as carriers for malaria here," said Hernandez. "Our area hasn't had a case since 1996, so mosquitoes are more of a nuisance than a threat."

Public health and the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron work together to mitigate the presence of mosquitoes, as well as to track how many mosquitoes inhabit the area.

When water becomes stagnant in large areas and mosquitoes have the potential to swell and breed there, public health suggests the 39th CES cover the area with larvicide and they also perform pesticide fogging three times a week, said Hernandez.

Meanwhile, public health conducts mosquito trapping for surveillance to determine the quantity of mosquitoes and to identify if they are carriers of potentially harmful diseases, he added.

Although there's no cause for concern around the base, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site states malaria may be present in other southeastern parts of the country. If traveling in other areas of the country where malaria may be present, it's important to protect yourself and to see a doctor immediately if symptoms such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, nausea and fatigue are present.

Ways to protect against mosquito bites include using insect repellent with DEET, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, and staying inside.

It's also advisable to "avoid mosquito feeding times, which are sundown to sunrise," said Hernandez. "To keep mosquitoes away from your home, remove anything that may hold stagnant water like kiddie pools."

Other pests to be cautious of here include ticks and stray animals.

Ticks are pesky, bloodsucking arachnids that thrive in tall grass, brush and wooded areas and may carry diseases such as Lyme disease.

"Ticks can be an issue with having so many grassy areas here and with pets on base. They are very common in the summer season, especially as people are spending more time outside and in the grass," said Hernandez. People should avoid areas where ticks are likely to inhabit, and pet owners should get tick-prevention treatments."

The CDC recommends wearing light-colored clothing to easily spot ticks, and to tuck shirts into pants. Check the entire body for ticks, but especially the hair, underarms, groin and back of the neck for ticks. If found, use fine-tipped tweezers to pull out the entire tick and clean the skin where the tick penetrated.

"Stray dogs and cats can be carriers of ticks, and they can also spread other diseases," Hernandez added. One such disease is rabies, though "this country is considered a low to intermediate risk for rabies because there are so many stray dogs."

Animals that look healthy and clean can still have ticks or diseases, so it's not a good idea to pet or feed them. It's also not easily discernable how stray animals will act when coming into contact with humans. This can cause a potential danger for people, especially children not watched carefully.

"Stay away from the stray animals. A lot of the cases we get here are cat scratches and bites. Don't feed the stray animals or use them as mascots. If we don't catch the animal that bites or scratches a person to see if it has rabies or not, that person has to get a rabies shot, which can be very painful," Hernandez said.

Whether the concern is for mosquitoes, ticks or stray animals, base agencies are doing their best to protect and alleviate the hazards. It's also important, however, to know how to protect yourself.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site was used in this story.