West Nile Virus Overview

How Can You Avoid Getting West Nile Virus?

Because West Nile is spread by mosquitoes, the best ways to avoid getting it are to protect yourself from mosquito bites and stop mosquitoes from breeding near your home. The CDC recommends that when you go outside, especially during the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most voracious, wear an insect repellant containing 10 to 30 percent of the ingredient DEET. The greater the DEET concentration, the longer the protection will last. On children, parents should use repellants containing only up to 10 percent DEET.

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Insect repellents containing DEET

The CDC has recently revised its recommendations to also include repellents containing the chemical picaridin (found in several retail insect repellants) and oil of lemon eucalyptus (an ingredient in many natural insect repellents).

If you have to go outside during peak mosquito hours, try to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Spraying the outside of your clothes with a mosquito repellant provides added protection.

Bad Time to be a Mosquito
In many regions of the United States, public health officials spray (either by helicopter or on the ground) larvicide to kill mosquito larva. They may also spray adulticide to kill full-grown mosquitoes.

Because mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in standing water, empty out any ponds, bird baths, flower pots and inflatable swimming pools you might have in your backyard. Install screens on all the windows and doors of your home to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

If you find a dead bird, contact your local health department immediately. Don't try to touch the bird, because it may have been infected with West Nile.