In Millcreek Township Erie County Health Department has discovered mosquitoes infected with the West Nile Virus. They have found the source of the infected mosquitoes and are working to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the region and fortunately no cases have been reported in humans yet. News Live 365 and ANTS Network wants to help inform you about what you can do to protect yourself from mosquitoes that can be carrying this and other viruses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control the West Nile Virus only has an effect on about 1 in 5 people who get the infection and the majority will never even notice an infection. Those that do notice an infection will generally present a fever and fatigue as well as a range of symptoms that can include headaches, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or a rash. Most people will recover from an infection just fine but could be ill for weeks or months. In some extreme cases, about 1 in 150, symptoms can be serious or even fatal. The virus can begin to infect the nervous system and cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Around 1 in 10 people who contract meningitis or encephalitis will die, many others will take a long time to recover from the disease and may have permanent damage. Elder people over 60 years of age and people suffering from autoimmune disease, diabetics, cancer patients, and patients of liver or kidney diseases are most likely to become infected with West Nile and experience symptoms.
Preventing West Nile
The most important thing you can do to prevent infection is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Here are some things you can do to avoid bites:
- Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
- When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
- Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
- Outside light matters. Incandescent lights attract mosquitoes, while florescent lights neither attract nor repel mosquitoes.
- Strong winds repel mosquitoes. Using electric fans on an enclosed porch could create a barrier to stop mosquitoes from approaching.
Also remember to take some basic precautions to prevent mosquitoes from breeding around your home or garden which can greatly reduce your chance of getting bitten.
- Keep your home in top shape. Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
- Don’t be messy. Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis. Tires especially are the number one breeding ground for mosquito larva in the United States
- Mosquito proof outdoor ponds and decorations. Treat your ponds with mosquito dunks which kill larva and can be found in the garden department of most stores. You could also stock your pond with fish that would eat any larva that hatch in your pond.
- Report dead birds to local authorities. Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus is circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area. By reporting dead birds to state and local health departments, you can play an important role in monitoring West Nile virus. State and local agencies have different policies for collecting and testing birds, so check with your state health department to find information about reporting dead birds in your area.