Fight the Bite Fight the Bite
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Think West Nile virus is “old news”? Think insect repellent is too much trouble? … Think again!

West Nile virus (WNV) has been documented in the U.S. since 1999. Since then, WNV has been found in all 48 mainland US states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico. The number of humans affected and the areas with more intense activity change from year to year, but all indications are that WNV is here in the U.S. to stay.

There were 4,269 human cases reported (and many more WN fever cases unreported) in 2006 — the second highest total of WNV cases in the U.S. so far, and an increase of ~1200 cases from the previous year. Cases have already been reported in 2007.

So, if WNV is here to stay, what can you do to protect yourself and your family?

Use insect repellent Mosquito-proof your home and Support integrated mosquito management

Use Insect Repellent!

We all know the excuses – “I forgot to bring it with me…”, “It smells yucky…”, “Isn’t that stuff bad for you?”… Try these suggestions:

1. Make it easy. Put repellent in convenient places – on the patio, with your camping equipment, in your backpack – so you’ll have it when you need it. All things considered, it’s worth that extra minute to go back and grab repellent, rather than risk getting West Nile Fever and feeling bad for weeks or even getting a more serious disease.

2. Check out the available repellents. Many repellents, such as those containing low concentrations of DEET and those with picaridin, have no or very little scent, so there goes that excuse. Lower concentration products may need to be re-applied if you spent more than a few outdoors; always follow directions on the product. Read here for more about insect repellent use and safety.

3. Let’s put things in perspective — What’s bad for you is getting a WNV infection. All repellents registered by EPA are tested for both efficacy and safety, and the standards for safety are very high. It is estimated that there have been billions of applications of DEET since it was introduced over 50 years ago. Always follow label instructions (such as keep out of eyes, mouth; wash off when returning indoors) and these are important tools to keep you safe from the very clear risk of WNV present throughout the mainland US. For more details about DEET and other repellents see EPA’s Web site.

4. A little known but very useful trick: Look for permethrin to treat clothing that you wear outdoors a lot, as well as gear (tents etc.) Permethrin treatment last through several washings, and can also help protect you from ticks and other blood-sucking bugs. Again, follow label instructions.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home!

Make sure you don’t have standing water around that can give mosquitoes a place to breed. Empty those flowerpot saucers and buckets; clean those forgotten swimming pools and clean those gutters.Also make sure your window and door screens are in good shape, keeping mosquitoes outside. Read more!

Support Community-based Integrated Mosquito Management

Many areas support mosquito management—the monitoring of mosquito populations and control of immature and/or adult mosquitoes—through local funds. Check with local authorities to see if there is an organized mosquito control program in your area. If no program exists, work with your local government officials to establish a program. The American Mosquito Control Association can provide advice, and their book Organization for Mosquito Control is a useful reference.

A report overview of Public Health Confronts the Mosquito: Sustainable State and Local Mosquito Control Programs by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials is located on this Web site, including “what you can do” about mosquito control. The entire final report from the Mosquito Control Collaborative is also online.