Every summer, we hear reports about people being infected with the West Nile virus (WNV). This name conjures up images of dirty, pooled water, mosquitoes, painful bites and potentially getting very, very sick. But what exactly is this virus and how do we guard against it?
West Nile virus is a virus carried by mosquitoes and is a threat during the summer months in the United States, which often advances into the autumn season as well. WNV is contracted by humans when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes, which is why summer is the main season for transmission.
WNV can also be transmitted through the handling of dead birds who had the virus.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes are very common around the United States and really gather around wooded areas and water. These are places where people spend a lot of time in the summer, whether camping or gathering at lakes and other typical vacation spots.
And for many Americans, their own front and back yards are a haven for these annoying and often dangerous bugs.
Getting rid of all mosquitoes isn't possible but taking steps to prevent bites is. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. Wearing long pants and longer sleeved tops can help eliminate bites but using an effective bug spray is also very important.
Some people do not like the chemical DEET that is used in bug spray but if you do use DEET, taking a shower after coming in can remove these chemicals from the skin. There are other non-DEET options, and a doctor of mine swears by rubbing dryer sheets on the skin!
I have often made the mistake of waiting for the day to cool before watering my flower gardens and have paid a heavy price with the mosquitoes. So I avoid dusk outdoors as much as I can, or I use a spray. Children should also avoid playing outdoors at this time if not covered properly or not wearing a protective spray.
Special outdoor candles containing citronella are off-putting to mosquitoes and we have found that mosquito fogs are also effective. These are small machines filled with a special concoction that is expelled as a mist/fog to repel the bugs, but is harmless to humans.