You've probably heard that the Mayor of Dallas recently declared a state of emergency in the ninth largest U.S. city to combat the spread of West Nile virus infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been more cases of West Nile virus reported so far this year than any year since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999.
When dealing with West Nile virus, prevention is your best bet. Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting this disease, along with others that mosquitoes can carry.
Take these commonsense steps to reduce your risk:
- Get rid of standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Check for clogged rain gutters, drains filled with leaves and debris, toys or dishes under flowerpots that may be holding water.
- Install or repair screens.
- Consider staying indoors at dawn and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.
- When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
- Use mosquito repellant such as those containing DEET or Permethrin. Both are effective against mosquitoes, but should be used differently. DEET may be applied to the skin, but Permethrin should be used only on clothing. Do not use both repellants at the same time. Read and follow the instructions.
Many people who are infected with West Nile do not have any symptoms, although some will experience fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. The best defense is to prevent being infected.