Tips to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus
If you are bitten by an infected mosquito carrying the virus, you are at risk of infection. However, not all mosquitoes are carriers and not everyone who is bit by a carrier gets sick.
“The virus is not contagious,” says Dr. Reena Lovinsky, Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control at The Scarborough Hospital. “This means you can’t get West Nile Virus from another person. Those at highest risk of infection are young children, people over 50 years of age and people with weakened immune systems.”
The symptoms depend on the person and are very much like symptoms of the flu which include:
- neck and back stiffness
- muscle ache
- joint pain
- swollen glands
Toronto Public Health recommends three easy steps you can take to protect you and your family from mosquito bites.
Use insect repellent when outdoors
- Spray a light coating of insect repellent with DEET to exposed skin – concentration of DEET should be no more than 30 per cent for adults and 10 per cent for children.
- You can spray repellents with DEET on top of clothing, but not underneath.
- DEET-free, botanical repellents are effective if you are outside for 30 minutes or less.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves.
- Wear light-coloured clothing.
- Wear specialized bug-protective clothing if the bugs are bad and you will be outdoors for an extended period.
Keep mosquito-friendly areas clean
- Get rid of stagnant water around your house on a weekly basis. Mosquitoes love bird baths, flower pot saucers and pool covers to lay their eggs.
- Clean up bushes and shrubbery. Mosquitoes like to hide in overgrowth and debris.
With West Nile Virus, the saying “the best defense is a good offense” is true.