Your best bet for preventing West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and eliminate mosquito-breeding sites. To help control West Nile virus:

  • Eliminate standing water in your yard. Mosquitoes breed in pools of standing water.
  • Unclog roof gutters.
  • Empty unused swimming pools.
  • Change water in birdbaths at least weekly.
  • Remove old tires or any unused containers that might hold water and serve as a breeding place for mosquitoes.

To reduce your own exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most prevalent, such as at dawn, dusk and early evening.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you go into mosquito-infested areas.
  • Apply mosquito repellent containing an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent to your skin and clothing. Choose the concentration based on the hours of protection you need — the higher the percentage (concentration) of the active ingredient, the longer the repellent will work. Follow the directions on the package, paying special attention to recommendations for use on children.
  • When outside, cover your infant's stroller or playpen with mosquito netting.

A vaccine is available to protect horses from West Nile virus. No vaccine is available for humans, but work to develop a human vaccine is under way.

Dec. 18, 2012

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