West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus

Summer marks the start of mosquito season and continues through Fall. West Nile Virus (WNV) cases can occur during mosquito season, making it important to know how to protect yourself and loved ones. West Nile is a virus most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites.

One of the most effective ways to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “when used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.”  Always use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of these active ingredients: DEET; Picaridi; IR3535; Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD); or 2-undecanone.  Visit the EPA website to learn more about which repellent is right for you and your family: Repellents: Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks and Other Arthropods | US EPA

Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. Always follow the product label instructions and reapply insect repellent as directed. TIP: If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.  

Another effective way to avoid WNV is to control mosquitoes outside and inside your home.  Be sure to follow these tips from the CDC:

  • Remove standing water where mosquitoes could lay eggs
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
  • Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
  • For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Use larvicides to treat large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.
  • Install or repair and use window and door screens. Do not leave doors propped open.
  • Use air conditioning when possible.

It’s important to note that horses can contract WNV from mosquitos too. Just as you would take precautions to protect yourself, prevention is key to reducing your horse’s risk of contracting WNV.  The American Association of Equine Practitioners provides tips. These tips can be found at: https://aaep.org/horsehealth/10-tips-reducing-your-horses-west-nile-risk. If you are concerned or have any questions about WNV and horses, please contact your horse’s veterinarian.

See below for more information from the Center of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)