The West Nile Virus first showed up in the U.S. in New York in the fall of 1999. Since then it has spread throughout the country, especially in the southern part. The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquitoe borne disease that can cause encephalitis or a brain infection. It can not be transmitted through contact with other people or handling animals. The "hot" times for the WNV is in the late spring through the fall here in our area. However, mosquitoes are present year round so you need to be on guard anytime your outsides.
In the Houston area, the WNV is making its rounds again. With a little effort and planning, you can protect yourself, your family and others from this virus. There are two ways that you can help prevent WNV. First, eliminate breeding areas for mosquitoes and then protect yourself from being bit by a mosquitoe.
Stop Mosquitoes from Breeding:
Mosquitoes like to breed in stagnant water. By eliminating their breeding areas we can control their population, thus controlling how many mosquitoes may carry this disease.
Follow these tips around your home:
* Eliminate any standing water. This includes non-functioning or stagnant Koi ponds, old tires, downspout extenstions that sag, trash cans and lids, bird baths and any thing else that holds water. Mosquitoes only need a very small amount of water to breed.
* Keep your pool clean and chlorinated.
* Keep gutters clean and sloped properly. I see gutters sloped wrong and holding water all the time.
Keep mosquitoes from biting you:
In areas where you cannot control the mosquitoe population, you need to take steps that will protect you and your family. Here a few tips to help you:
* Cover exposed skin.
* On areas of the skin that cannot be covered, use a good mosquitoe repellent. Use a repellent that contains DEET. (deet is safe as long as you follow the directions)
* Studies have not determined what concentrations of DEET that are safe for children.
However the American Academy of Pediatrics says "the efficiency of DEET plateaus at 30%"
* The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a cautious approach when using DEET on children. They recommend a low does of 10% or less.
* Additional precaustions of using DEET around children:
*Don't let children apply the repellent to their bodies. Due it for them.
* Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants and apply the DEET to the clothes.
* Don't spray the DEET under clothes.
* Don't put DEET on the hands, where it may end up in the mouth or on food and removed DEET sprayed clothese immediately after the children come back indoors and wash all areas that have had or might have had contact with DEET.
Be pro active in your neighborhood. Educate your neighbors about steps they can take to help eliminate breeding areas for mosquitoes. Inform parents of the importance of protecting their children and the safety precautions that should be used when using a DEET repellent. We can't wipe every mosquitoe off the face of the earth, but we can control their breeding grounds in our backyards with a tiny bit of effort.