Don't Let West Nile Virus Take a Bite out of Your Summer

CHICAGO, Ill. -- Although West Nile Virus will continue to be a health threat in 2003, the risk of becoming seriously ill is low. It is estimated that only 1 in 150 people infected with the virus develops a more severe form, such as West Nile Encephalitis or Meningitis. In fact, most people infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms, and don't even realize they've had the disease.

However low the risk, pathologists recommend still taking steps to take to protect against infection. The most effective way to reduce the chance of becoming infected with West Nile is a two-step approach: eliminate mosquito-breeding areas and prevent mosquito bites.

Among the recommendations:

- Keep rain gutters clean

- Change standing water and remove containers where water collects

- Check windows and screens for holes

- Apply insect repellent with DEET

- Stay indoors when mosquitoes are active

- When outdoors, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing