West Nile Virus Home > West Nile Virus Prevention
Because West Nile virus is most often spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, the best method of West Nile virus prevention is to avoid mosquito bites. Some good ways to prevent mosquito bites include: applying insect repellent to exposed skin, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, installing or repairing window and door screens so mosquitoes cannot get inside, and draining sources of standing water.
Most often, West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread West Nile virus to humans and other animals when they bite.
The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
Below are some suggestions for preventing a West Nile virus infection:
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Generally, the more of the active ingredient a repellent contains, the longer it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of the active ingredient in a repellent does not mean that your protection is better; it only means that it will last longer. Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors.
- Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.
- Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's directions for use, as printed on the product.
- Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent, since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply permethrin-containing repellents directly to skin. Do not apply repellent to skin under your clothing.
- When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
- Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites.
- Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes in frequently used outdoor areas by draining sources of standing water. By doing this, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
- At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pets' water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
- Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening. These are peak mosquito-biting times.
- Remove discarded tires and other items that could collect water.
- Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
- Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.
- Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.