Panama City - With the recent rain, experts say the mosquito population is growing. Increased mosquito populations mean an increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquitoes need water to lay eggs. So health officials are urging people to check their property for standing water, especially after the recent rains.
"It's been very warm. The water it ripe but we do have mosquitoes that breed all year long until it gets very very cold and it does not take very much water for a mosquito to have some place to land and lay her eggs," Public Health Services Manager Laura McKinney with the Bay County Health Department said.
McKinney says you're at the most risk at dusk and down, or when you're taking a break in the shade or doing something in the woods. The Department of Health says there are three main steps you can take to protect yourself. Drain any standing water, like in flower pots or kiddie pools, to stop mosquitoes from multiplying. Cover your skin with clothes or bug repellent, And cover doors and windows with screens.
Right now there are not any reported cases of mosquito-borne illness in Northwest Florida. But health officials have seen the viruses popping up in recent months.
"We had West Nile virus found in sentinel chickens in Walton County in April and then we found one more case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis," McKinney said.
These diseases come with serious health risks and can even be fatal.
"People do sometimes get brain damage if they get meningitis as a result of the encephalitis or the virus itself."