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How To Avoid West Nile Virus This Summer

In 2012 alone over 5,600 cases of West Nile Virus were reported to the CDC in the US. West Nile is fast-spreading and hard to control, but there are a few things you can do to help keep your family safe.

Keep in mind that though only 5% of all people infected with West Nile will ever actually get sick, between 5-10% of those people will actually die from the mosquito-borne disease. If you suspect you may have been infected with West Nile, call your doctor immediately.

First and foremost, make sure your house is as mosquito-proof as possible. Mosquitoes are by far the biggest transmitter of West Nile Virus and they love the cool comfort of your house. Buy window screens, use citronella candles, and even call in an exterminator if you have a mosquito problem.

Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to West Nile and they’re often the least able groups to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Be sure to spray your children (and all family members) with bug spray before going outdoors and reapply at least once an hour. If someone you love has been bitten by a mosquito, monitor them for signs of illness in the coming days.

As much as possible, wear clothing that covers your skin while outside. Unfortunately, West Nile is the most prevalent in areas that get the warmest, from the Southeast to Texas. Though you may be tempted to go bare, wear as much clothing as possible while gardening or exercising outdoors to protect against mosquito bites.

If your family spends a lot of time outside your house, be sure you make your yard as unattractive to mosquitoes as possible. Remove all standing water from around your home – full flower pots, bird baths, coy ponds – as they are a natural draw to mosquitoes. Bring in a few bird feeders and flowers that birds are particularly drawn to as mosquitoes generally tend to stay away from birds, a natural predator.

Mosquitoes don’t have to make you sick. In addition to the West Nile Virus, mosquitoes harbor all kinds of nasty diseases that you never want to get. As there is no known vaccine for WNV, protecting yourself from mosquito bites in the first place is the best way to keep yourself clear of any harmful effects. If you have questions about the mosquito population in your area, contact a pest control professional.

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