Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy camping, hiking, picnics, or just spending time outside. But we can’t forget to protect ourselves from warm weather insects, such as mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are capable of transmitting many diseases, such as West Nile Virus.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WNV is spread from the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds carrying the virus.
To reduce the chances of being bitten by a mosquito, you should consider using a topical insect repellant that contains a 10 to 30 percent concentration of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET). When reading the label of the repellant, you should remember that increasing the concentration of DEET does not provide better protection, but it does provide longer protection. If you are sensitive to DEET, you may want to choose a repellant with a seven percent concentration of Picaridin, which is odorless and less likely to cause skin irritations.
Apply the repellant lightly on the skin but steer clear of applying it on the hands to avoid the risk of transferring the chemical to your eyes or mouth. This is especially important when applying on young children. Some other ways to reduce the risk of getting bit include avoiding time spent outside during dawn and dusk and covering up when you are outside. 
Homeowners can take extra steps to reduce mosquito populations by following these simple rules:
n Reduce the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Do not allow water to accumulate at the base of flower pots or in pet dishes.
n Do not store children’s plastic wading pools outside when not in use.
n Do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths and remember to aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
n You also want to make sure that you clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
For more information, contact the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7185.
*Information provided by Centers for Disease Control and the Independence Health Department.
Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.