With temperatures rising, mosquitoes will be reappearing. This disease, spread by mosquitoes, may infect people in nearly every state, so it’s important to be prepared. West Nile Virus disease is a harmful illness. The various forms, West Nile Virus fever, meningitis, encephalitis or acute flaccid paralysis all have serious impact on people. Here’s what you need to know about this recent intruder.
Do everything you can to avoid exposure to mosquitoes. The only way to prevent WNV infections is to control the mosquito population and avoid mosquito bites. Avoiding mosquitoes doesn’t mean that kids have to stay inside in front of the TV. Get them outside and playing, but remember – a couple of seconds applying an effective repellent to exposed skin and clothing will help everyone stay healthy.
Remember the 4 D’s
- Dawn/Dusk: Avoid mosquitoes by staying indoors at dawn and dusk when bugs are most active.
- Dress: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
- DEET: Apply insect repellent that contains DEET. Follow directions carefully.
- Drain: Drain any standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Mosquitoes lay up to 250 eggs at a time in still water, which hatch in 7 to 10 days. If standing water is removed weekly, many mosquitoes will be kept from breeding. Here’s some tips for reducing the mosquito’s breeding ground:
- Remove standing water in ponds, ditches, clogged rain gutters, flowerpots, plant saucers, puddles, buckets and cans.
- Check for items that might hold water including wheelbarrows, tires, hubcaps, toys, garden equipment, pool covers, tarps, plastic sheeting, pipes, drains, flat roofs, boats, canoes and trash.
- Drill drainage holes in tire swings.
- Completely change water in birdbaths and wading pools weekly.
- Stock ponds and fountains with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
- Use mosquito dunks in small ponds. Dunks are natural bacteria that kill mosquito larvae but are harmless to other animals, and are available at home and garden stores.
West-Nile Virus Symptoms
It is very rare to catch this illness, and most infected people will not get sick or will have only mild symptoms. However, in rare cases, West Nile virus can be fatal. West Nile virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and/or meningitis (inflammation of the brain's lining). However, most infections are mild and symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally include skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes.
Symptoms generally appear 3 to 14 days after exposure. All residents of areas where West Nile virus activity has been confirmed could be at risk, but people over age 50 seem to be especially vulnerable to the severe forms of disease. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
More severe infections may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness or convulsions. Persons with these symptoms need to seek medical attention immediately.
For more information, visit these websites:
You can also call your local Public Health office:
- Alamosa: (719) 589-6639
- Conejos: (719) 274-4307
- Costilla: (719) 672-3332
- Mineral: (719) 658-2416
- Rio Grande: (719) 657-3352
- Saguache: (719) 754-2773 or (719) 655-2533