How To Avoid West Nile Virus
It’s hard to pick up a newspaper without reading about concern about the West Nile virus, which can be passed along to humans from mosquitoes. The New York Times reports that in Texas, 640 people have been infected with West Nile this summer, and 23 of those have died. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has some less than bad news: the agency points out that most of those (80 percent) infected with West Nile don’t know it, because they don’t suffer from any symptoms. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. Only about one in 150 people infected with West Nile will develop severe illness. How to make sure that you’re not one of those? The CDC offers this advice for avoiding the virus:
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
- Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
- Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.