West Nile Virus
Alternate Names : Flavivirus, West Nile Encephalitis, West Nile Meningitis
What can be done to prevent the infection?
There is no vaccine for West Nile virus yet, though researchers are working on it.
So prevention rests on two methods:
Reducing the number of mosquitoes in an area. Mosquito breeding
sites, such as standing pools of water, should be destroyed. Public health officials may also spray known
or potential mosquito breeding areas. An increase in bird deaths, especially crows and ravens, can
be a clue that West Nile virus may have entered an area.
Actions people can take at home include:
Empty water from flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets,
barrels, and cans at least once or twice a week.
Clean out clogged rain gutters frequently.
Get rid of old tires or any other items laying around in a yard that might collect water.
NOTE: Home "bug zappers" and Vitamin B have not proven useful in preventing
Protect against mosquito bites. People can protect themselves against
being bitten by taking the following actions.
Lightly spray an insect repellent containing up to 50 percent DEET on exposed skin when going outdoors.
(Higher concentrations are not necessary and provide no added protection.)
Spray clothes, tents, sleeping bags, and screens with a repellent containing either DEET or permethrin.
If spraying clothes, a person does not need to spray the skin areas under the clothes.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening. These are peak mosquito biting times.
Place mosquito netting over baby cribs, playpens, and carriers when outdoors.
Repair window and door screens so mosquitoes can't get indoors.
NOTE: Be sure to follow the directions on any insect repellent used. Apply repellent sparingly to skin of
children. Do not use on infants under age 2 months.
What are the long-term effects of the infection?
People who have the mild form of West Nile virus infection usually have no long-term
effects. But as many as two-thirds of the people who survive more serious cases of West Nile encephalitis
do have long-term effects lasting a year or more, such as:
What are the risks to others?
West Nile virus cannot be spread from person to person, so there are no risks to others.