By Naomi Greer
With summer approaching in the U.S., the warm weather creates an ideal environment for mosquitoes. These unwelcome guests at your barbecues, ballgames and other outdoor activities are not only a nuisance but also capable of carrying disease.
There are some steps you can take to protect yourself from mosquitoes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should wear long clothing, keep mosquitoes outside, sleep surrounded by a net if you aren’t in a protected area, use insect repellent and eliminate sources of standing water around the home, where mosquitoes tend to breed and lay their eggs.
While some of these steps are obvious, others may be less familiar. Many of us have animal bowls, flower pots, bird baths and other items around our homes that may hold or collect water. The CDC recommends emptying these containers at least once a week and, if unneeded, discarding or recycling them. Even when emptied, these items can still contain bacteria that serve as a food source for egg-bearing female mosquitoes.
Knowing that bleach kills bacteria, our scientists reviewed existing scientific literature to find out if containers that don’t appear to have any bacteria present are less likely to become mosquito breeding sites. The data suggests that supplemental cleaning with bleach or treating water in containers that can’t be emptied may reduce the attractiveness of these containers as breeding sites. This supplemental step is now included in our public education materials.
As a 103-year-old company built on a dedication to public health, helping stop the spread of infection is part of our DNA. Our namesake Clorox® bleach is capable of purifying water and killing bacteria and viruses that can lead to disease, so we are in a position to respond when various threats emerge, backed by a team of scientists and others who are knowledgeable about infection prevention. We all take great pride in making products that can help people in need, as we did after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, during the Ebola outbreak, and most recently in response to the earthquake in Ecuador and flooding in Houston.
It will take a collaborative effort from government, the private sector and the community to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as chikungunya, dengue and Zika. Through public education and product donations, as we did recently in the Dominican Republic with a bleach donation to AmeriCares, Clorox will do its part to help.