How to Protect Yourself & Your Family
West Nile Virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of
an infected mosquito. Most people infected with West Nile Virus have
mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all.
People with weaker immune systems and people with chronic diseases, are at greater risk for serious health effects. Although the chance of being infected is low, everyone in an area that has West Nile Virus activity is at risk. So it is very important to reduce the risk to you and your family by taking steps to avoid mosquito bites.
The best way to avoid becoming infected with West Nile Virus is to not get bitten by a mosquito. By taking simple precautions to lessen your chance of being bitten by a mosquito, you can also lessen your chance of getting West Nile virus.
Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:
Check and repair window and door screens. They should fit tightly and have no holes that may allow mosquitoes indoors.
Limit outdoor activities from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when you are outdoors. Avoid areas with heavy underbrush and trees.
When going outdoors, apply an insect repellent being sure to follow manufacturers’ instructions carefully. Products containing the active ingredient DEET provide the best repellency, but other options are available.
Eliminate Standing Water Around Your Home & Vacation Property
Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and it takes about 5 to 7 days for the eggs to grow into adults that are ready to fly. Even a small amount of water, for example, in a saucer under a flower pot, is enough to act as a home for mosquitoes. As a result, it is important to eliminate as much standing water around your property as possible by:
Changing the water in bird baths and flushing sump pits weekly
Cleaning gutters regularly to prevent clogs that can trap water
Emptying plastic pools and covering swimming pools when not in use
Regularly (at least once a week) draining standing water from items like:
Saucers under flower pots
Removing old unused items, such as tires, from around your property which have a tendency to collect water
The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that DEET not be used on children less than 2 months of age. The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10% to over 30%. The efficacy of DEET plateaus at a concentration of 30%, the maximum concentration currently recommended for infants and children. The major difference in the efficacy of products relates to their duration of action. Products with concentrations around 10% are effective for periods of approximately 2 hours. As the concentration of DEET increases, the duration of activity increases. For example, a concentration of about 24% has been shown to provide an average of 5 hours of protection. A prudent approach would be to select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors. It is generally agreed that DEET should not be applied more than once a day.
Additional precautions include:
Apply DEET sparingly on exposed skin; do not use under clothing.
Avoid spraying in enclosed areas. Do not use DEET near food.
Do not allow children to handle the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child.
Do not use DEET on the hands of young children; avoid applying to areas around the eyes and mouth.
Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors. Wash treated clothing.