Take Precautions Against Mosquitoes to Prevent West Nile Virus

Take Precautions Against Mosquitoes to Prevent West Nile Virus

July 1, 2009

In Brief

  • The risk of West Nile virus begins now and will continue until frost.
  • People over 50 have a greater risk for serious complications from West Nile virus and should always wear repellent when they may be exposed to mosquitoes.
  • Symptoms of West Nile virus include headaches, neck stiffness, skin rash, stupor, disorientation, paralysis, and coma. Symptoms appear 3 to 14 days after the virus is contracted. See a doctor as soon as symptoms appear.

With heavy rainfall in June and standing water, the mosquito population is already increasing along with concerns about West Nile virus.

 

"We've seen a lot of mosquitoes, and it's going to continue." said Barbara Ogg, an Extension educator and entomologist in Lancaster County.

In 2008, 47 Nebraskans contracted West Nile and one of whom died, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Web site.

Nebraskans need to battle the risk on two fronts: prevent mosquito breeding and protect themselves and continue measures from now to frost.

Prevention

  • Dump or drain any containers or areas with standing water. In small ponds or other areas that can't be drained, use products containing bacillus thuringiensis israelensis or BTI. These come in the form of doughnuts, biscuits or granules that can be put into a pond to cut down on mosquito larvae. This active ingredient is specifically targeted to mosquito larvae and won't affect animals drinking it, Ogg said.

     

    For those with plenty of cash, a device called a Mosquito Magnet can be bought for about $500. It works with a propane tank to generate carbon dioxide, which attracts and traps mosquitoes.

    "Unfortunately, bug zappers don't work on mosquitoes," Ogg said. "Mosquitoes aren't attracted to light — they find us by detecting carbon dioxide and other odors we give off."

  • Use repellents. The Center for Disease Control recommends three types of repellents that work best against mosquitoes.

     

    • DEET, the most common chemical in insect repellents, works best for those who want to stay outside for long periods of time. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn't recommend its use on children under 2 months.
    • Picaridin is a repellent with similar effectiveness as DEET, but without the odor or greasy feeling. AAP has not made recommendations regarding its use on children.
    • Natural oil of lemon eucalyptus is available in Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, a non-greasy product with a pleasant smell. Oil of lemon eucalyptus may not last as long as the other two repellents. A natural botanical product, it may appeal to those who want to use "green" products.

    Ogg said she has received a lot of calls about liquids and foggers that can be used to treat the yard or garden.The products work, but don't provide long-term control, Ogg said. These products ideally should be applied only a day or so before the event, but early enough the product dries. 

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