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How to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is rare but can be deadly. To avoid getting it, you’ve got to avoid mosquito bites.


  • Step 1: Clinical trial A promising treatment was published in 2004 for West Nile virus encephalitis. It uses already existing, safe drugs present in every drug store. Anybody interested in downloading the documents for GenoMed’s clinical trial can do so by clicking on 'WNV trial' at
  • Step 2: Relax First of all, relax. Roughly 80% of people who catch the West Nile virus have no symptoms at all. Twenty percent have mild, flu-like symptoms, and only 1 in 150 have the serious symptoms that land them in the hospital.
  • TIP: Most of those who suffer serious symptoms of West Nile virus are over 50.
  • Step 3: Don’t touch dead birds Stay away from dead birds. Mosquitoes get the West Nile virus from biting infected birds.
  • Step 4: Wear insect repellant Wear insect repellant with DEET when outdoors, especially during prime mosquito feeding times—from dusk to dawn. Spray the repellant on exposed skin and clothes.
  • : The maximum concentration of DEET should be 30% for adults and 10% for children. Don’t use DEET on kids under two.
  • Step 5: Cover up Wear loose, light-colored long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks. (Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing.) Tuck in your shirt, and tuck your pants into your shoes or socks. Avoid thin cotton; mosquitoes can bite through it.
  • Step 6: Eliminate standing water Get rid of places where mosquitoes lay their eggs, meaning stagnant water in things like ceramic pots, kiddie pools, watering cans, flowerpot saucers, and old tires. Change the water in birdbaths and vases at least twice a week. Keep swimming pools treated and ornamental pools aerated and/or filled with fish.
  • Step 7: Make your home less mosquito friendly Make your home less mosquito friendly. Plug up holes, keep grass short, trim bushes and shrubs, sweep up wet leaves, and clean out gutters.
  • Step 8: Be especially vigilant in high risk areas Be especially vigilant about protecting yourself from mosquito bites in states with high incidences of West Nile virus like South and North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Mississippi, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Colorado.
  • Step 9: Avoid exposure to pesticides Avoid exposure to the pesticides that many communities spray to control West Nile virus by staying indoors during application times, usually at night. Check with your local health department for spraying schedules.
  • TIP: Because of their toxicity, personal use of pesticides is not recommended. But if you must, check with your local health department for a list of EPA-approved pesticides.
  • Step 10: Consult a doctor Consult a doctor if you develop extreme swelling or infection at the site of a mosquito bite. Other symptoms include fever, muscle weakness, a stiff neck, confusion, a severe headache, and sudden sensitivity to light. In rare cases, the West Nile virus can cause encephalitis or paralysis.
  • FACT: From 2002 to 2006, there were 9,632 cases of West Nile virus nationwide.

You Will Need

  • Insect repellant with DEET
  • Home maintenance

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