Summer is quickly approaching, which means that mosquito activity will soon become more widespread.
Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus, which can cause mild to serious illness. The best way to prevent WNV is to avoid mosquito bites.
Following the five Ds of prevention can help lessen the risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes:
• Drain all standing water
• Avoid dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
• Dress appropriately in long sleeves and pants
• Defend or DEET yourself against mosquitoes with an effective repellent
• Doors and windows should be in good condition.
Your health department also urges residents to take appropriate precautions now and throughout the summer to minimize mosquitoes around their property.
There are several easy things you can do to reduce mosquito breeding including:
• Removing water-holding containers (buckets, barrels, flower pots, etc. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they’re not being used).
• Changing water frequently in pet dishes
• Changing bird bath water at least twice a week
• Avoiding using saucers under outdoor potted plants In addition, consider organizing or participating in clean-up activities to pick up garbage from parks and other public spaces.
By helping to limit potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes, every resident can contribute to reducing the nuisance caused by mosquitoes and stop the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.
What are the symptoms of WNV?
• Serious symptoms in a few people. About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
• Milder symptoms in some people. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
• No symptoms in most People. Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
How is WNV infection treated?
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.
What should I do if I think I have WNV?
Milder WNV illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention for this infection though they may choose to do so. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately.
Severe WNV illness usually requires hospitalization. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms that could be WNV.
For more information, visit www.gachd.org.