West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes, and while many people infected with the virus may show few symptoms, 20 percent of people can show signs of fever, headaches and body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. If left untreated, West Nile virus can develop into a more severe form of the disease; however, this is the case for less than one percent of people infected according to the CDC.
In 2015, West Nile Virus was reported throughout the continental U.S. and District of Columbia in humans, birds and mosquitoes, placing urgency on state officials to help communities protect against mosquitoes. Prevention remains a high priority following the West Nile outbreak in 2012 that resulted in 5,674 human cases across 48 states – 33 percent of which were reported in Texas.
Protect yourself from West Nile and help reduce the mosquito population through these steps:
- Put up personal barriers. Wear light-colored clothing and cover up with long sleeves and pants. While many mosquitoes are particularly active during dawn and dusk hours, Aedes mosquitoes that can transmit the Zika virus, bite all day long.
- Maintain your habitat. Mosquitoes will fly through the smallest openings to enter your home. Make sure window and door screens are intact and repair leaky faucets inside and out.
- Apply defenses. Apply EPA-approved insect repellent such as DEET, on exposed skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a variety of safe and effective EPA-approved insect repellents for you and your family. Read the label directions on EPA-approved insect repellents before applying it to your skin.
- Eliminate sources of standing water. This includes old tires, cans, buckets, bottles, clogged rain gutters, birdbaths, pet bowls, flowerpot saucers, and plastic wading pools, which attract mosquitoes and allow them to breed. Aedes mosquitoes can breed in containers as small as a bottle cap.