(KMOV.com) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning residents to be cautious as they have seen mounting cases of West Nile Virus this summer.
The CDC says the West Nile Virus is spread through the bite of a mosquito that has been infected with the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite.
Only about two people in 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness like encephalitis and meningitis are possible; in worst cases, death. Elderly victims have the highest risk for more serious symptoms.
The best way to prevent West Nile or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid bites.
Precautions include practicing the three “R’s”—Reduce, repel and report.
Reduce exposure – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
Repel – When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long sleeved shirt. You can also apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR 3535. Consult a physician before using repellent on infants.
Report – In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may harbor mosquito breeding grounds.
Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flower pots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
Public officials believe the hot summer could increase mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile.
For more information, visit the CDC website.