Fight the Bite! – Prevent West Nile Virus

The constant buzzing in your ears and itching bites often make mosquitoes hard to ignore – and that just may be a good thing! As we head into summer, we should enjoy the outdoors, but remember to protect ourselves from mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes spread West Nile Virus (WNV), which can be serious, life-altering, and even fatal. Mosquitoes that carry WNV do show up in Montana, and since it’s impossible to tell whether a mosquito carries the virus or not, bite prevention is your best protection.

How can you prevent mosquitoes and bites? Follow the 4 Ds!

  • DEET- Apply repellent that includes DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin and clothing. These are the three most effective insect repellents. Permethrin may be used on clothing, but can be very toxic, so use it with extreme caution. Do not spray aerosols on your face – spray it into your hands and rub on your face.
  • Dusk and Dawn – This is when mosquitoes are most active. Try to avoid outdoor activities during these times.
  • Drain Standing Water – Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Drain such areas around your home (gutters, pools, tires, buckets, water bowls, etc.).
  • Dress Appropriately – Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.

Fortunately, most people that become infected with WNV will show no symptoms. Those that do have symptoms may experience:

  • Fever
  • Headache or body aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash

In few individuals (about 1 in 150), other more serious symptoms may also include:

  • Disorientation
  • Tremors or convulsions
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision loss
  • Numbness or paralysis

If you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately!

Enjoy your time outside this summer, and make sure you don’t carry anything back inside – protect yourself from mosquitoes! Find out more about the prevention, transmission, and treatment of WNV by downloading our printable fact sheet.

Find out what is being done locally to prevent and control mosquito populations: www.cascademosquito.org.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Frequently Asked Questions about WNV, Common Myths, and more general information about WNV.