West Nile virus is back in the news.
With the exceptional amount of rain over the summer in our local area (over 20 inches during the past 3 months), there are more hospitable environments for mosquitos, the main carriers of the virus. The West Nile virus is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes then spread West Nile virus to people and other animals by biting them.
West Nile is not spread:
- By coughing, sneezing, or touching.
- By touching live animals.
- From handling live or dead infected birds. Avoid bare-handed contact when handling any dead animal. If you are disposing of a dead bird, use gloves or double plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage can.
- Through eating infected birds or animals. Always follow instructions for fully cooking meat from either birds or animals.
Most people infected with the West Nile virus have no signs or symptoms.
About 20 percent of people develop a mild infection called West Nile fever. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Skin rash
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
- Use insect repellent with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective.
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)