Federal health officials last year warned disease transmission from outdoor pests is on the rise in the U.S.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found illnesses caused by mosquito, tick and flea bites tripled across the country between 2004 and 2016.

It was in April 2016 that experts warned of a possible Zika outbreak in the United States — and the virus carried by a common mosquito could reach as far north as Indiana.

The CDC already had confirmed 346 Zika cases in the continental U.S. in the first four months of 2016. Zika is linked to more birth defects than microcephaly, which causes smaller brains in newborns. It also can cause premature deliveries and blindness, the CDC reports.

Fortunately, no Zika cases have been found in the continental U.S. since 2017.

Friday, the calendar turned to summer. When outdoor temperatures warm into the 80s here, mosquitoes come out biting. State health officials soon will be busy testing mosquitoes for West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes love discarded tires and stopped up gutters. Check around your house and yard to make sure you don’t have any place that collects standing water.

And this isn’t a one-time task. You’ll need to make the rounds of your yard at least once a week.

Doing that should be enough in most yards to keep most mosquitoes at bay.

They love to lay eggs in standing water, but it takes a week to 10 days for the eggs to hatch, so as long as you don’t allow water to stand for that long, the mosquitoes will be out of business.

There are spots you just can’t drain. If you know of an area where water consistently collects, call the Howard County Health Department. The department can treat the standing water with a chemical that will keep mosquito larvae from maturing.

There’s no way to eliminate mosquitoes entirely. No matter what you do to make your property mosquito-proof, a few of the pests will likely survive. For those, health experts recommend you wear repellent, particularly in the early morning and in the cool of the evening when mosquitoes are most active. They also recommend wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

The bottom line is that pesky mosquitoes don’t have to ruin your summer fun. With a little work and some common sense, you can keep the irritating insects under control.

Kokomo Tribune editorial board

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