How do I protect myself and my family from West Nile?

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(NC)-People can get West Nile virus if they are bitten by an infected mosquito. While, it's important to remember that the risks of being bitten by an infected mosquito are low and the chances of becoming seriously ill are even lower, anyone who is exposed to mosquitoes in an area that has West Nile virus has the potential to become infected.

West Nile Virus

To protect yourself and your family, you should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. You can take action on two fronts:

1. Protect yourself:

. Mosquitoes can bite at anytime - day or night - depending on where you are in Canada. Contact your local public authority to find out when you are most at risk.

. When going outdoors, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other approved ingredients.

. Wear protective clothing such long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat. Light coloured clothing is best because mosquitoes tend to be more attracted to dark colours.

. Make sure that door and window screens fit tightly and have no holes that may allow mosquitoes indoors.

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2. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites around your home and cottage:

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and it takes about four days for the eggs to grow into adults that are ready to fly. Even a small amount of water, for example, in a saucer under a flower pot, is enough to act as a breeding ground. As a result, it is important to eliminate as much standing water around your property as possible by:

. Regularly draining standing water from items like pool covers, saucers under flower pots, recycle bins, garbage cans, etc.

. Remove old unused items from around your property including old tires, that have a tendency to collect water.

. Change the water in wading pools, bird baths, pet bowls and livestock watering tanks twice a week.

. Cover rain barrels with screens.

. Clean out eaves troughs regularly to prevent clogs that can trap water.

. If you have an ornamental pond, consider getting fish that will eat mosquito larvae.

For more detailed information about West Nile virus or to link to your provincial or territorial web site, visit Health Canada's West Nile virus web site at www.westnilevirus.gc.ca .

By News Canada

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