Precautions for West Nile virus

A family of very small insects is causing quite a commotion. The West Nile virus has made a resurgence in many parts of the U.S. and is therefore the focus of much media attention. At the center of this frenzy is a variety of mosquitoes that carry and transmit the virus to humans. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of being infected by the virus is to be proactive in protecting yourself and in being aware of virus symptoms.


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  • eliminate mosquito breeding areas
  • limit outside activity at dawn and dusk
  • wear insect repellent
  • contact the health department if…
  • go to the doctor if you develop serious symptoms

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  • stop outdoor activity
  • rely on pesticides sprayed in your neighborhood
  • panic if you are bitten by a mosquito
  • put off medical procedures
  • avoid people who may have West Nile virus

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do eliminate mosquito breeding areas

Mosquitoes need just a small amount of standing water to breed and can find ideal breeding areas in places such as clogged gutters, flower pots and children’s pools. Mosquitoes typically live for about a month, but may breed several times during their lifespans. Reduce the amount of standing water around your yard by emptying flower pots, buckets, pools, gutters, or other common items where water collects, thus reducing the number of breeding options for mosquitoes.

Do limit outside activity at dawn and dusk

The key times for mosquito activity is at dawn and dusk. By limiting your outdoor activity at these times, you reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito that may be carrying the virus, thus reducing your chances of contracting the disease. If you do have to be outside during times of high mosquito activity or know you will be near areas that may have a high concentration of mosquitoes, wear long sleeves and pants to limit the surface area that a mosquito can bite.

Do wear insect repellent

Apply insect repellent to your skin and clothing that contain active ingredients approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Products containing these active ingredients typically provide long-lasting protection: DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.

Do contact the health department if…

If you find a dead bird and you can’t determine how it died (i.e., near a roadside or window, if its body is damaged in some way), contact your local health department for instructions on reporting and disposing of the body. They may tell you to dispose of the bird after they log your report. Don't handle the body of a dead bird with your bare hands.

Do go to the doctor if you develop serious symptoms

See your doctor if you have serious symptoms of any kind (unusually severe headaches, confusion, etc.) as you normally would. Though there is no specific treatment for this virus, one can receive supportive treatments such as getting IV fluids to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, as respiration and nursing care. Also, talk to your doctor if you are a nursing mother and develop symptoms that could be caused by West Nile virus.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not stop outdoor activity

Enjoy your regular outdoor activities. There is no reason to let the threat of West Nile prevent you from doing the things you love to do. Just use common sense and take a few precautions to protect yourself.

Do not rely on pesticides sprayed in your neighborhood

You have to play a role in reducing the risk of being infected by West Nile virus. Many cities are spraying pesticide in neighborhoods to kill mosquitoes. But, these pesticides don’t eliminate the breeding ground for the insects and are not as effective as we would like for them to be. And in the process they may kill harmless or beneficial insects.

Do not panic if you are bitten by a mosquito

Though West Nile virus can affect people of all age groups, only about 1% of those getting the virus will get seriously ill. People over the age of about 50, and those with already compromised immune systems seem to be more likely to become ill from the virus. Regardless of age, those with a large number of mosquito bites will have a greater chance to get the disease, just because they have more chance to get the virus. Don’t go to the hospital because you are afraid you have the virus unless you have more serious symptoms. There is no specific treatment for WNV infection and no preventive vaccination available. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and head and body aches that pass on their own.

Do not put off medical procedures

Don’t avoid necessary medical procedures for fear of contracting West Nile virus. Risk of contracting the West Nile virus through medical procedures is very, very low and the fear of contracting WNV should not prevent you from any necessary surgery.

Do not avoid people who may have West Nile virus

WNV is not spread through casual contact (touching or kissing a person with the virus). Though most cases, by far, are contracted through mosquitoes, a very few cases have been found to have been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding, and even during pregnancy from mother to baby.


You can make a difference in controlling the spread of West Nile virus by being aware of your surroundings and being proactive in protecting yourself and your loved ones. Be vigilant. Take steps to combat West Nile virus on a personal level and help make being outdoors at this beautiful time of year safer and more enjoyable for everyone!

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