West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness that affects the central nervous system. It can be life-altering or fatal. West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes carry the virus after they become infected from feeding on infected birds.
People of all ages can become ill from a single mosquito bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017 there were 30 reported cases of West Nile Virus in Minnesota, 73 cases in South Dakota, 90 cases in Illinois, and 553 in California.
Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting West Nile Virus and other diseases that mosquitoes carry. Protect yourself and your loved ones. Avoid bites and mosquito-proof your home.
Apply insect repellent to exposed skin when you go outdoors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered several active ingredients for use in repellents that can be applied to skin and clothing. Look for these ingredients on product labels: DEET, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and permethrin (use this on clothing, shoes, bed nets, camping gear, but not skin).
When you are using repellents, always follow the label instructions. Reapply the repellent if you feel mosquitoes starting to bite. Repellents containing DEET and picaridin may be used for adults and children older than two months of age.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus may be used for children age three and above. Don’t put repellent in children’s hands because it may get into their mouths or eyes. If you choose to use permethrin, only use it on clothes or camping gear, not directly on the skin.
Covering up is another protection strategy. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with a repellent will provide extra protection.
Is your home a breeding site for mosquitoes? Drain any standing water near your home. A small amount of standing water can be enough for a mosquito to lay her eggs. Be sure to empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and other items. Throw away or cover up stored tires or items that are not being used. Also, check your rain gutters. If clogged, they will collect water. Don’t forget your pets’ water bowls! Clean them weekly.