West Nile Virus 2018

mosquitoIn Missouri, mosquitoes found carrying the disease have been found in St. Charles, St. Louis, and Jefferson County. Human West Nile virus cases, in our area, generally occur in late summer and early fall.

The most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites.

West Nile Virus is a mosquito borne virus. It is spread to humans (as well as birds and mammals) by the bite of an infected mosquitos. Most people infected with West Nile virus do not experience any symptoms. In about 20% of infected people, symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches. In rare instances the virus can be very serious or even fatal, infecting the human nervous system, causing meningitis or encephalitis.

The mosquito that spread West Nile virus (Culex species) is generally active in evening and early morning hours. Avoidance of outside activity during these hours is recommended. Wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, especially during these hours is beneficial.

Using insect repellent containing DEET, Oil of lemon eucalyptus, or other EPA registered insect repellent on exposed skin surfaces is also recommended. Picaridin is a product that can be used on clothing but not directly on skin. Always read the product label instructions carefully, and reapply as needed. Most of these products can be used on infants over 2 months old. The effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents, is not known.

Mosquito proof your home by using screens on windows and doors and repairing any small openings. Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in and near standing water. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flower pots, or trash containers. EPA approved larvaecides can be safely used in ponds.

Take action to protect you and your family from mosquito bites. If you or a family member develop symptoms of West Nile virus, contact your healthcare provider.