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Take precautions against mosquitoes this Fourth of July holiday

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Wikimedia Commons

The heat wave may have slowed daytime attacks by mosquitos on humans in the San Antonio area, but their bites still pose a danger at night.

The heat wave may have slowed daytime attacks by mosquitos on humans, but their bites still pose a danger at night.

Entomologist Molly Keck at the San Antonio office of the Texas Agrilife Extension Service said mosquitoes, like humans, stay out of the heat. But they are ready move about again at night when it cools off a bit.

Keck said malaria has shown up in Texas, and West Nile virus was recently detected in Southwest Bexar County.

She said rid your property of standing water where they breed, including places you may not think about.

"That can be a kid's toy in the backyard. It can be a potted plant [or] the saucers that sit under those pots. It can be as small as a bottle cap that is flipped upside down," Keck said.

She said a recent study found mosquitoes prefer to dine on some people more than others. Body odor and clothing colors appear to play a role. Perfumes are bad. Lighter color clothes are good.

While long sleeve shirts and pants are the best defense when out at night, Keck said that's not a fun option for steamy hot South Texas.

Keck said people should wear a mosquito repellent approved by the CDC and EPA for that specific use. Those containing DEET are among the most effective repellents.

She said mosquitos are nearly a year-round problem in balmy San Antonio. Early spring rain showers helped create plenty of local breeding ground in time for summer patio gatherings, including the Fourth of July.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus, or WNV, is mostly spread to people from a bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes then spread WNV to people and other animals by biting them.

Most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms such as headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rashes, according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

About one in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk for severe illness if they are infected, Metro Health reported.

People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and those who have received organ transplants are also at greater risk.

Copyright 2023 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Brian Kirkpatrick has been a journalist in Texas most of his life, covering San Antonio news since 1993, including the deadly October 1998 flooding, the arrival of the Toyota plant in 2003, and the base closure and realignments in 2005.