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Protecting Against West Nile Virus

We all hate mosquitoes and the itchy, red bites they leave us with.  These days, the concern with mosquitoes goes far beyond the discomfort they bring, because of the increase in incidences of West Nile Virus.  This disease results in a wide range of symptom severity.  Some people may be bitten by an infected mosquito and never know it, while in other cases, it can be fatal.  Mosquitoes contract this disease when they bite a bird carrying the virus.  They can then bite a human and spread it.  According to the US Geological Survey, there have already been 693 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in humans in the United States; significantly more than recent years.  Typically, there is an increase of cases in late summer and early fall…right about now.

Mild forms of West Nile virus show up in symptoms similar to that of the flu; body aches, fever, nausea, sore throat, etc.  However, this virus can also take the form of West Nile meningitis or West Nile encephalitis.  Both of these viruses are extremely serious and require immediate medical attention. Some of the symptoms include stiff neck, loss of consciousness or vision loss. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to practice good mosquito-repelling habits.

Perhaps one of the surest ways to avoid mosquito bites is by covering yourself from head to toe with clothing.  Unfortunately, when the temperatures are consistently in the upper 80s or low 90s this is just not practical.  There are a lot of quality mosquito repellents on the market.  The ones with DEET in them are usually the most effective.  Some people have an aversion to putting these chemicals on their bodies, but it also works to spray it on your clothing.

Reducing the presence of mosquitoes is another good option.  Eliminating sources of standing water in your yard will help keep the number of mosquitoes down as these pests require water for breeding.  Pest control companies also offer mosquito treatment services that helps deter these nuisances from plaguing your yard.  Mosquitoes are out in full force in the morning and at night, so you should be extra cautious when spending time outdoors during these times of the day.  Citronella candles are a great mosquito repellent to use if you want to enjoy the evening on a porch or patio.  A fan will also help keep these pests away as they can’t handle the wind.

If you discover any dead birds around your yard, contact your local health department, but do not handle the bird as it could be carrying the virus.

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