When dealing with West Nile virus, prevention is your best bet. Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting this disease, along with others that mosquitoes can carry. Take the common-sense steps below to reduce your risk:
• avoid bites and illness
• clean out the mosquitoes from the places where you work and play;
• help your community control the disease.
Something to remember: The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill.
Here’s more advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply insect repellent containing DEET (Look for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) to exposed skin when you go outdoors. Even a short time being outdoors can be long enough to get a mosquito bite. For details on when and how to apply repellent, see Insect Repellent Use and Safety at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/insect_repellent.htm. See also Using Insect Repellent Safely at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/alpha_fs.htm from the EPA.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites
When possible, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or DEET will give extra protection. Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.
Get double protection: wear long sleeves during peak mosquito biting hours, and spray DEET repellent directly onto your clothes.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours
The hours from dusk to dawn are peak mosquito biting times for many species of mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning -- or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain standing water from around your home.
Drain Standing Water
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water. Need examples? Learn more on the Prevention of West Nile Virus at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/prevention.htm
Install or Repair Screens
Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having well-fitting screens on both windows and doors. Offer to help neighbors whose screens might be in bad shape.
Help Your Community Report Dead Birds to Local Authorities
Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus is circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area. More than 130 species of birds are known to have been infected with West Nile virus, though not all infected birds will die. It's important to remember that birds die from many other causes besides West Nile virus. By reporting dead birds to state and local health departments, you can play an important role in monitoring West Nile virus. State and local agencies have different policies for collecting and testing birds, so check the Links to State and Local Government Sites at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/city_states.htm to find information about reporting dead birds in your area.
Mosquito Control Programs
Check with local health authorities to see if there is an organized mosquito control program in your area. If no program exists, work with your local government officials to establish a program. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/city_states.htm
Mosquito breeding sites can be anywhere. Neighborhood clean up days can be organized by civic or youth organizations to pick up containers from vacant lots and parks, and to encourage people to keep their yards free of standing water. Mosquitoes don't care about fences, so it's important to control breeding sites throughout the neighborhood.
For more information, call the CDC public response hotline at (888) 246-2675 (English), (888) 246-2857 (español), or (866) 874-2646 (TTY).