We are hearing around Chicago of the first reported cases of West Nile Virus. This is a mosquito borne illness that can be very serious, especially in the elderly community. About 1 in 5 people bitten by an infected mosquito will show symptoms. The symptoms resemble the flu, with fever, aches, and joint pain; along with stomach symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. It can cause serious neurological disorders and even death (though this is rare).
Prevent West Nile Virus by following the 4 “Ds” of defense.
- Dress– Cover up, especially at dawn and dusk. Less skin showing is less skin for mosquitos to dine on.
- Defend– Use an insect repellant and reapply according to directions. If you can find one containing DEET, that’s most effective.
- Dusk to Dawn– This is the worst time for mosquito activity. If you must be out around these times, make sure to follow the first two steps: dress and defend.
- Drain– It’s always best to try and prevent mosquitos entirely. Mosquitos need water to breed and survive. Make sure there is no standing water around your home. Watering cans, kiddie pools, bird baths, and dog bowls are common culprits. Don’t stop giving water to the birds and pets; just make sure to change the water at least every other day.
It has been quite dry lately, but that’s no reason to forget about mosquito danger. With all of us watering our gardens and lawns, there is still a chance to have standing water about. For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/westnile.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO