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West Nile Virus Basics
Prevention: Avoid Mosquito Bites to Avoid Infection
Human illness from
West Nile virus is rare, even in areas where the virus has been reported.
The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a mosquito
bite is low.
You can further reduce
your chances of becoming ill by protecting yourself from mosquito bites.
To avoid mosquito bites:
- Apply insect repellent
containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) when you're outdoors. For
details on when and how to apply repellent, see Using
Insect Repellent Safely from the EPA
- When possible,
wear long-sleeved clothes and long pants treated with repellents containing
permethrin or DEET since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.
Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin.
If you spray your clothing, there is no need to spray repellent containing
DEET on the skin under your clothing.
- Consider staying
indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito
- Limit the number
of places available for mosquitos to lay their eggs by eliminating standing
water sources from around your home.
- Check to see if
there is an organized mosquito control program in your area. If no program
exists, work with your local government
officials to establish a program. The American
Mosquito Control Association
can provide advice, and their book Organization for Mosquito Control
is a useful reference. Another source of information about pesticides
and repellents is the National
Pesticide Information Center,
which also operates a toll-free information line: 1-800-858-7378 (check
their Web site for hours).
About the Virus, the Disease, and Its Spread
West Nile virus is
spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and can infect people, horses,
many types of birds, and some other animals.
Most people who become
infected with West Nile virus will have either no symptoms or only mild
ones. However, on rare occasions, West Nile virus infection can result
in severe and sometimes fatal illnesses.
There is no evidence
to suggest that West Nile virus can be spread from person to person or
from animal to person.
PLEASE NOTE:CDC is not a hospital or clinical
facility; we do not see patients and are unable to diagnose your illness,
provide treatment, prescribe medication, or refer you to specialists.
you have a medical emergency, contacting CDC is not the proper way to
get immediate help. If you are a patient, please see your health care
provider or the nearest emergency room. If you are a health care provider,
please contact your state epidemiologist or local health department.
Reporting Dead Birds
Dead birds in an
area may mean that West Nile virus is circulating between the birds and
the mosquitoes in that area. Over 110 species of birds are known to have been infected with West Nile virus. Although
birds, particularly crows and jays, infected with WN virus can die or
become ill, most infected birds do survive.
The public can play
an important role in monitoring West Nile virus through reporting dead
birds to state and local health departments. However, in some areas, birds
are no longer being collected. Inaddition, state and local agencies have
different policies for collecting and testing birds.
NOTE: Because CDC is a federal agency, we do not deal directly with
the reporting of dead birds. State and local health departments are responsible
for initiating these investigations. They report their findings to CDC.
Information provided by:
CDC West Nile Virus Home Page - Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases (DVBID)
For complete information and links please visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/.