Just as experts predicted, mosquitoes are more prevalent than ever this year, thanks to last winter’s unseasonably mild weather. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the total number of West Nile cases in 2012 is the highest since 2003, making it one of the worst outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease ever to hit the United States. More than 3,500 cases and 147 deaths in 48 states have been reported to the CDC so far this year.
While these statistics are troubling, most mosquitoes do not carry the virus and the majority of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms and recover on their own. However, there several facts and prevention tips to keep in mind:
- Mosquitoes can cause diseases like malaria, encephalitis and West Nile Virus.
- If you develop symptoms such as fever, severe headache or swollen glands after being bitten, it is important to see your healthcare provider immediately.
- There is currently no treatment for West Nile virus and no vaccine to prevent it.
- Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Make sure you unclog your house gutters and remove water from old tires and potted plants.
- Use insect repellant especially during peak biting times between dusk and dawn, and wear light clothing covering most of your body.
- Install or repair windows and door screens.
- Use air conditioning when possible.
- Stay indoors, especially at dusk and dawn.
- Keep grass and weeds cut short.
- Don’t depend on insect light electrocuters (“bug zappers”) to control mosquitoes. They do little to reduce biting in an area.