Warm weather signals the prospect of bare feet, outside barbeques and (unfortunately) insects. These tiny annoyances are more than just pests capable of ruining your outdoor picnic; they can be deadly. This past week mosquitoes with West Nile Virus were reported just a few hours away in St. Louis. Here’s what you need to know to keep your family protected from the deadly mosquito disease (courtesy of the Center for Disease Control):
- Use an effective insect repellant. Repellents are an important tool to assist people in protecting themselves from mosquito-borne diseases. Click here to find out the CDC’s recommendations for skin and clothing repellant).
- Fix the screens on your doors and windows. When dealing with West Nile virus, prevention is your best bet. Ensuring your screens are free of holes and tears will not only reduce mosquitoes, but other insects that might creep into your home. You can also stay indoors during dawn, dusk and early evening with are peak mosquito biting times.
- Empty any containers holding water around the yard. These items might include (empty flower pots, pet food dishes, bird baths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans, discarded tires, trash cans, etc). In this way, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
- Watch for updates from your local health departments. Click here for updates from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Symptoms of West Nile virus include: headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV. NOTE: Most people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with West Nile virus will not develop any type of illness (an asymptomatic infection). If you suspect you may have West Nile virus, please visit your nearest emergency room.
Protecting your family is easy! With the help of these simple tips from the CDC, Ozarks residents can enjoy a safe and pest free summer.