If it seems like the mosquitoes are particularly bad this year, it’s not your imagination.

Record-setting July rain, flooded fields, and standing water in roadside ditches and backyards all have become mosquito breeding grounds.

Johnson County Health Department director John Bonsett said the department has gotten far more mosquito complaints than normal this year. In addition to more of the pesky insects, health officials have disease concerns since Marion, Morgan and Shelby counties all have had mosquitoes test positive for the West Nile virus, he said.

The health department is encouraging people to empty any containers on their property with standing water, including buckets, old pools and gutters.

Greenwood and Franklin spray for mosquitoes, and residents can report problem areas.

Bonsett said the county can treat for mosquito larvae where there is standing water and mosquitoes have been breeding. He said that treatment and people emptying standing water on their property is often more effective than when communities spray for the insects.

The risk of West Nile fever, the illness caused by the virus, is real. While in most people it produces little more than flu-like symptoms, in a few people it can lead to meningitis, encephalitis or even death. Last year, at least one Hoosier died of the virus. Symptoms can include high fever, severe headache, stiffness in the neck, sore joints, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting and confusion.

You help in the battle against mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some easy-to-follow guidelines.

  • Use mosquito repellent with DEET whenever going outside. Reapply it after swimming, perspiring heavily or being bitten. Also spray clothing, as mosquitoes can bite through cloth.
  • Install or repair window screens. This will help keep mosquitoes from getting into a house.
  • Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites. Once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet dishes, birdbaths, buckets, barrels, swimming pool covers and any other containers that can hold water.
  • Remove discarded tires and other items that could collect water. And be sure to check for containers or trash in places that might be hard to see, such as under bushes or a porch or deck.

Mosquitoes are a seasonal pest we traditionally complain about. But this time of year, there is an added health risk. So take time to be proactive about mosquito control on your property.

At issue

Heavy rain and standing water have led to an increase in the mosquito population.

Our point

To reduce the risk of West Nile virus, eliminate standing water on your property.