Carried by mosquitoes, the West Nile Virus can cause deadly inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the brain (meningitis) in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. saw 1,358 cases of West Nile Virus in humans in 2008, resulting in 44 deaths.
Although no specific therapy or vaccine exist for the West Nile Virus, the NPMA recommends the following preventive measures:
- Avoid mosquito nesting and breeding sites. Try to eliminate standing water and other sources of moisture in or around the home in flowerpots, water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, barrels and other objects that can collect water.
- Keep windows and doors properly screened to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Be alert when outdoors during dawn, dusk and early evening hours, when mosquito-biting activity can peak. Also, avoid areas near water where mosquitoes gather, especially during peak activity.
- Avoid wearing bright colors, open-toe shoes and sweet-smelling perfumes or colognes.
- Plan ahead for spending time outdoors. Wear mosquito repellent with DEET as well as appropriate apparel such as long pants and long-sleeve shirts.