Preventing West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes can be a real pain in the …arm. Here in the Western Upper Peninsula the much anticipated spring thaw brings standing water and a breeding haven for a multitude of pests, including the mosquito. Beyond being a buzzing nuisance, mosquitoes can transmit various diseases including; St. Louis Encephalitis virus (SLE), La Crosse Encephalitis virus (LAC), Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE), and of course West Nile Virus (WNV).

West Nile virus (WNV) is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. You can reduce your risk of being infected with WNV by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

Mosquito Control Around the Home
Care should be taken to avoid mosquitoes, especially for young children and the elderly who may be less capable to swat and move. As we spend more time outside of our homes this spring and summer keep the following tips in mind for reducing mosquito populations around your home.

  • Get rid of old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles or any water-holding containers.
  • Fill in or drain any low places (puddles, ruts, etc.) in the yard.
  • Keep drains, ditches, and culverts free of weeds and trash so water will drain properly.
  • Keep roof gutters free of leaves and other debris.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rainwater.
  • Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and plant pots or drip trays at least once each week.
  • Store boats covered or upside down, or remove rainwater weekly.
  • Keep grass cut and shrubbery well trimmed.
  • Make sure ornamental ponds have fish, which will eat mosquito larvae.
  • Repair window screens.

Personal Protection
When spending time outdoors it is nearly impossible to avoid all mosquitoes. Take care to dress properly covering as much skin as possible to avoid bites. Insect repellents, provided they are chosen properly and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions also provide protection from insects. Click the links below for some safety information and tips for choosing the right repellent.

Bug Repellent Fact Sheet

CDC-Insect Repellent Use & Safety