By AMY NILE
PENINSULA — Mosquitoes are not only a bother this time of year, the blood-feeding insects can infect people with diseases and put public health at risk.
Pacific County has at least 19 different types of mosquitoes — including two known to carry the West Nile virus, state Department of Health data shows. The number of species found in the county has increased by almost a third since 2002.
Statewide, there are more than 40 types of mosquitoes. Five counties in Eastern Washington reported at least one case of West Nile in 2016, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
The two types of mosquito that carry Zika are not found in Washington. However, past outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses that can cause brain swelling, such as western equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis, have spurred the establishment of mosquito control districts across the state.
Washington now has 18 districts with the power to exterminate the pests, including those in Cowlitz and Clark counties, according to the nonprofit Municipal Research Service Center. Pacific County does not have one.
People can ward off illnesses by avoiding bites and controlling the biting insects around their homes.
The health department recommends staying indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active, if possible, and wearing repellent, long-sleeve shirts, pants and hats in infested areas, such as woods and wetlands.
People should make sure their windows and doors are bug tight, fix leaky outdoor faucets, clean clogged gutters and get rid of anything that holds standing water around their homes, state experts say. Water in birdbaths fountains, wading pools and animal troughs should be changed at least twice week.