With the weather warming up across the country, a recurring danger will once again surface, but you can take steps now to stay safe. In 2012, West Nile virus sprung up earlier than normal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the number of cases soared to more than 5,000 last summer.
The 2012 number of 5,387 cases, including 243 deaths, was the highest number ever reported to the CDC. The disease, which infects humans through mosquito bites, spanned 48 states.
Now is the time to take precautions so 2013’s numbers do not look like last year’s.
According to the CDC, the easiest and best way to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. Here are some more specific tips:
- When you or a loved one goes outside in a mosquito-prone area, use insect repellent.
- Avoid going outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more active.
- Wear long sleeves and pants for protection.
- Make sure screens are on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
- Prevent mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change water in pet dishes frequently, replace water in bird baths, drill holes in tire swings to drain any water, and keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.
It’s important to remember that, of those who get infected, only about one in 150 develop serious symptoms. However, those with the most risk of becoming ill are those who are older than the age of 50. Pregnancy and nursing do not increase a person’s risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus.
For more information about West Nile virus and how to limit risk of getting the disease, visit the CDC’s website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.