Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus can be a serious, even fatal, illness. It can affect people, horses, birds, and other animals. There is no human vaccine for West Nile virus. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to avoid mosquito bites and reduce the places mosquitoes live and breed around your home.
How is West Nile virus spread?
West Nile virus is almost always spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on birds that carry the virus. There is no evidence that West Nile virus can be spread by direct contact with infected people or animals.
Who is at risk?
The risk of getting West Nile virus is very low, but anyone can become infected. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease are at greater risk of serious illness.
How to protect yourself from bites
The best way to protect against mosquito-borne disease is to prevent mosquito bites. Take these steps:
- Make sure windows and doors are "bug tight." Repair or replace screens.
- Stay indoors from dusk to dawn, if possible, when mosquitoes are the most active.
- Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and a hat when going into mosquito-infested areas, such as wetlands or woods.
- Use mosquito repellent when necessary. The most effective repellents contain DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Read the label and carefully follow instructions. Take special care when using repellent on children.
Don't give mosquitos a home
Mosquitoes need water to breed and grow. Reduce the number of places mosquitoes live and breed around your home:
- Empty anything that holds standing water - old tires, buckets, plastic covers, tarps, and toys.
- If you collect rainwater by using a rain barrel, make sure it has a lid.
- Change water in your birdbaths, fountains, wading pools, garden ponds, flower pot trays, and animal troughs at least twice week.
- Recycle unused containers that may collect water - bottles, cans, empty flower pots, and buckets.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
- Fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinklers.
For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Health or the King County Public Health Services websites.