Cases of the West Nile virus are up 40% since last week, this according to the CDC. 1,590 cases of the West Nile virus have been confirmed so far this summer, including 66 deaths. Anyone living in the South could tell you that the mosquitos seem especially bad this year, just standing outside for a few minutes in the morning or evening can leave you itching all over. With the West Nile virus now reaching the same dangerous heights as back in 2002, and likely to continue for the next few months, it is time to be a little more aware of how to stop these pesky little insects from making you feel quite ill.
Before this situation becomes over hyped, it is important to know that in most cases the West Nile virus will have no ill effects on someone who has contracted it. People under 50 years old with strong immune systems should be able to fend of the virus after a few days. Yet there are the occasions where contracting the virus can lead to severe illness or worse. The West Nile virus can potentially lead to either West Nile fever (about 20% of those that have contracted the disease will develop West Nile fever), or severe West Nile disease. Although rare (about 1 in 150 cases), severe West Nile disease can lead to extreme illness or even death. People over 50 years old with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk for developing this disease once they have contracted the West Nile virus.
According to the CDC, there are plenty of preventive measures that can be taken in order to significantly reduce the chances of contracting the West Nile virus, I have listed a few of the more important ones below:
1. Apply repellent with more active ingredients, the more ingredients the better. Although these ingedients (such as deet) will not increase the strength of the repellent, they will increase the duration of its effects.
2. If you are taking your infant for a stroll, be sure to place mosquito netting over the stroller, as children are at greater risk of contracting the virus due to under developed immune systems.
3. Empty any standing water you have around your home at least twice a week. Examples include: water dishes, birdbaths, flower pots, buckets, etc.). Anyone familiar with the breeding habits of mosquitos can tell you that standing water is a haven for them.
4. Clean out clogged drain gutters.
5. Stay indoors as much as possible during dawn and dusk, as these are peak biting hours.
So there you have it, five important tips to remember for preventing the West Nile virus. For more tips visit the CDC website. Stay safe out there!