Fight the Bite: Take Steps to Prevent West Nile Virus
With spring weather comes rainfall, and soon after, mosquitoes. The bite of an infected mosquito can transmit West Nile Virus (WNV). Though mosquitoes are just starting to fly in our community, dumping standing water from rainfalls will reduce their breeding areas, ultimately helping to reduce the possibility of being bitten.
“Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water in our yards. It’s important to empty and scrub out containers that hold water around our homes to minimize mosquito breeding grounds. These would be things like flower pots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, tires, birdbaths, rain barrels and trash cans, and it should be done weekly,” says John Hausbeck, Environmental Health Supervisor for Public Health Madison & Dane County.
West Nile Virus is transmitted to birds and people through bites from mosquitoes infected with the virus, with about 1 in 150 infected people developing a serious and sometimes fatal illness as a result.
Public Health Madison & Dane County plays a role in mosquito control efforts by monitoring for mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus and working to control them.
“Since we’ve been following the guidance to prevent COVID-19 many of us have been getting outside with household members to walk, hike, and do yard work while safely maintaining 6 feet distance from others. This is beneficial for our physical and mental well-being, but it’s important to add another safety step; preventing mosquito bites,” says Hausbeck. Individuals can reduce their risk of being bitten by mosquitoes and getting infected with West Nile Virus by protecting themselves against mosquito bites. There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread by mosquito bites.
In order to prevent mosquito bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants from dusk through dawn. That’s when many mosquitoes are most active.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents, following product instructions.
Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
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