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Avoid Mosquito Bites and West Nile Virus

When dealing with West Nile virus, mosquito bite prevention is your best bet. Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting West Nile virus, along with other illnesses that mosquitoes can carry. Take the commonsense steps below to reduce your risk:

  • Avoid mosquito bites
  • Clean out mosquitoes from the places where you live, work, and play
  • Help your community control the disease

Something to remember: The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill.

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Avoid Mosquito Bites

Use Insect Repellent
Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. According to the CDC, insect repellents that contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), picaridin (KBR 3023), and IR3535 as well as some oil of lemon, eucalyptus, and para-menthane-diol products usually provide longer protection than insect repellents containing different active ingredients. Even a short time outdoors can be long enough to get a mosquito bite.

Always follow the product label's instructions for use. Look for a graphic created by the Environmental Protection Agency that indicates how long the product will protect you from tick and mosquito bites. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months old.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites
When possible, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent will give extra protection. Don't apply repellents containing the ingredient permethrin directly to skin. Permethrin should only be used on clothes, shoes, bed netting, and camping gear. Do not spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours
Dusk and dawn
are peak mosquito biting times for many species of mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning -- or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times. But keep in mind that these are not the only time that mosquitos bite. For instance the tiger mosquito, which was accidentally introduced into the United States, is one that's quite active during the day.

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