Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes. Infection with the virus can
cause severe and sometimes fatal illness. There were 3000
reported cases of West Nile disease in the US during 2005, including 119
help you prepare for mosquito season, read the truth about some
common West Nile virus myths:
Common Myths about West Nile Virus
There's not much I can do about West Nile virus.
mosquito bites by applying insect repellent when spending
time outdoors. Use repellent safely. Always read and follow
Truth: There is a lot that you, personally,
can do to reduce your chance of West Nile virus infection.
the number of mosquito bites you get. Make a habit of using
insect repellent with DEET when outdoors. Spray repellent on
exposed skin and clothing. Get the details about safe
mosquito-biting hours are usually dusk to dawn. Pay special
attention to protection during these hours, or avoid being outdoors.
can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home. Mosquitoes
breed in standing water, so check your yard once a week: get
rid of containers that aren't being used, empty water from flower
pots, change water in bird baths and maintain clean gutters.
sure window and door screens are in good condition. Have an
older neighbor or family member? See if they need help installing
or repairing screens.
#2: Kids are at the most danger of getting sick from West Nile
Truth: People over 50 are at the highest
risk for developing severe West Nile disease.
few children have been reported with severe
West Nile Virus disease. By contrast, most of the deaths
due to WNV during 2002 were among people over 50 years old.
Half of those deaths were among people over 77 years old.
is always a good idea for children to avoid mosquito bites,
but it's also important for adults - especially older adults
- to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. Click
here for suggestions on how to avoid mosquito bites.
#3: It's only people who are already in poor health who have to
worry about West Nile virus.
Truth: Healthy, active older adults who spend
time working and exercising outdoors have been affected by severe
West Nile virus infection.
Being over 50 is a risk factor for developing severe West Nile
disease if infected with the virus. There is a risk of getting
mosquito bites while leading an active life outdoors. This doesn't
mean you have to stay inside - it does mean that it's important
to use repellent when
you go outside.
containing DEET are not safe.
Truth: Repellents containing DEET are
very safe when used according to directions.
DEET is so widely used, a great deal of testing has been done.
When manufacturers seek registration with the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) for products such as DEET, laboratory
testing regarding both short-term and long-term health effects
must be carried out.
are products with different strengths (percentage of DEET) available.
The longer the protection you need the higher percent of DEET
with DEET can be used for both adults and children, according
here for much more information on using
#5: As long as my area has a mosquito control program, I don't
have to worry about using repellent.
Mosquito control activities don't eliminate every mosquito, so
personal protection is still important.
Want to learn more?
activities, such as using products to kill mosquito larvae and
adult mosquitoes, are one part of control. Personal protection,
such as using repellent, keeping window screens in good condition,
and control of household breeding sites are other important
between the community, the family and the individual is needed
to achieve the best prevention of West Nile virus infection.
to report dead birds? Contact your state or local health department
Find state and local West Nile virus information, including how
to report dead birds...
Asked Questions about West Nile Virus
Basic questions about the virus and
disease, how the virus is spread, who is at risk, how you can
prevent infection, more...
Surveillance, and Control
Maps, guidelines, surveillance program,
Training events and educational materials
for health and public health professionals
Clinical features, transmission, diagnosis,
West Nile virus and insects, birds,
dogs and cats, horses, other vertebrates, virology
West Nile virus-related publications...
National Planning Meeting for Surveillance, Prevention,
and Control of West Nile Virus in the United States (2001, 2002, 2003)