West Nile virus is a disease that is spread by migrating birds and mosquitoes. Although most people do not become ill, individuals 50 years of age and older can be hit particularly hard and are more likely to die from the disease.

Taking necessary precautions to prevent contracting West Nile virus is key. The most important tip is to limit outside activity around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are actively feeding.

Also, when going outside, people should wear protective clothing, such as lightweight, long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and should apply insect repellant containing DEET

Dress in light-colored clothes to discourage mosquitoes and to enable you to spot ticks more easily. Wear collared, long-sleeved shirts and long pants with cuffs for maximum protection. Tuck your shirt into your pants and the pant cuffs into your socks or boots.

Avoid heavily wooded, high-grass areas and standing water.

DEET insect repellents are available in a variety of different concentrations ranging from less than 10% to 100%. If you're planning on being outside a short time, use a lower concentration product. If you'll be out all day, use one that protects for longer periods, as noted on the product label. Use higher concentrations for all outdoor activities in regions with large populations of biting insects or ticks.

The effectiveness of insect repellents and sunscreens are dramatically reduced when users apply them at the same time. Decide which is your top priority at the moment, protection from insects or from the sun - then apply either a repellent or sunscreen. Specially formulated products that combine both DEET-based insect repellent and sunscreen are available.

Around the House

Here are some tips on how to reduce mosquitoes around your house.

Eliminate Standing Water

  • Landscape your property to reduce low spots
  • Clean storm drains
  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Clean and chlorinate all pools
  • Don't allow water to stagnate in birdbaths, water bowls or pools
  • Clean clogged gutters
  • Aerate ornamental ponds and/or stock with fish
  • Empty water from cans, tires, toys, boats and flower pots

Other Ways of Protecting Yourself

  • Make sure all windows and doors have screens in good repair
  • Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants & long-sleeved shirts outdoors
  • Use an approved mosquito repellent while outdoors