MOSQUITOES AND WEST NILE VIRUS
West Nile Virus is a strain of encephalitis, a serious and sometimes deadly viral disease that can be carried by some mosquitoes. First found in the United States in 1999, West Nile Virus has been reported in 46 states. In 2007, West Nile Virus was responsible for 115 deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People over the age of 50, young children, and those with conditions that compromise the immune system may have more severe symptoms.
West Nile symptoms usually appear between five and 15 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. In the early stages, these symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches, pain, stiffness, or all three
If you experience any of these symptoms after being bitten by a mosquito, you should immediately seek medical attention.
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
- Make sure to choose a product that is right for your activity, as this varies with time and relates to effectiveness.
- Take cover!
- Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeve shirt when outdoors.
- Make sure all of your window screens fit tightly and are in good repair.
- Empty buckets, cans, and other receptacles to prevent water from collecting.
- Cover wading pools, but take care to drain water that may collect on pool covers.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs. When they are not in use, keep pools empty and covered.
- Change water in bird baths every three or four days.
- Keep roof gutters clear and draining properly.
- Report standing water to your local health department.
- Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's directions for use, as printed on the product.
- Don't allow children to apply insect repellents themselves.
- Monitor the news for information about current insect conditions and community efforts to control insects.
- Be aware that increased sightings of dead birds in your area can be a sign that West Nile Virus might be present. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you cannot contract West Nile Virus from an intact dead bird.) If you see multiple dead birds in your area, you should immediately contact your local health department. (A comprehensive list of local health departments is available on the CDC's Web site.)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Consumer Specialty Products Association
United States Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources
National Pesticide Telecommunications Network
The University of Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory