West Nile Virus Threat Raised by Spring Rains

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West Nile Virus (WNV) threat has been raised by the spring rains. The recent heavy rains in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky have left areas of standing water which provide the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The increase in mosquito population raises the risk of WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

Prevention is the first line of defense from mosquitoes, West Nile Virus, and other diseases transmitted by mosquito bites. The peak season for the mosquito population in the southern states tend to be May through October.

Human cases of West Nile viral disease generally do not occur this early in the season, but it is important to minimize the risk by preventing mosquito bites and control the insects around homes.

To decrease the mosquito population, eliminate standing water near your home. Remove old tires, buckets, flower posts, etc which can hold rain water and provide a breeding area for mosquitoes.

Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Empty children's wading pools when not being used.

Keep windows and doors closed or cover them with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

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To decrease you exposure to mosquito bites, remember mosquitoes are most active and therefore most likely to transmit WNV at dawn and dusk. If you must go outside during at this time of day, use insect repellent or wear long sleeves, long pants and socks to reduce exposed skin.

  1. Insect repellents containing either DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 are recommended, but should be used according to guidelines for their use.
  2. Neither DEET nor Picaridin should be used on infants younger than two months old.
  3. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than two years of age.
  4. DEET at 30 percent concentration is the maximum level recommended for children and infants over two months old.
  5. None of these products should be applied around the mouth or eyes.
  6. Never use

repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus may include fever, head and body aches, and usually last only a few days. The virus cannot be spread from one person to another.

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.

Persons with medical concerns should see a medical provider. Testing is available for West Nile Virus infection.

Related story
Spring Rains To Bring Mosquito Problem

Sources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Tennessee Department of Health
US Environmental Protection Agency

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