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Keep the Bite at Bay:

How to Avoid West Nile Virus this Summer

As the numbers on the thermometer rise this summer, so will the numbers of mosquitos living in Kern County. Unfortunately, this increase of mosquitos will increase the chance that you or your loved ones might contract West Nile Virus (WNV), a potentially serious illness carried by mosquitos that escalates in the summer and early fall. The most severe symptoms of the virus, including vision loss, convulsions, and paralysis, are extremely rare, and it is more likely for the virus to cause milder symptoms such as fever, body aches, or a skin rash. In fact, four out of five people who are infected with West Nile Virus experience no symptoms at all.

Who is Most at Risk? Because mosquitos are the agent most likely to spread the disease, anyone who is outside for long periods of time is at a higher risk for contraction. It is those over age 50, however, who are most likely to develop serious symptoms of the infection. If you spend time outside and/or are over the age of fifty, be sure to take preventative measures. Although your chances of contracting a serious case of West Nile Virus are low, you don’t want to take any chances. There is no specific treatment for the disease, and therefore prevention is your best protection. The following advice will help you fight the bite!

Avoid the Bite: To reduce your chances of getting bitten by an infected mosquito, avoid being outside during peak mosquito hours: dusk and dawn. If you must be outside, be sure to wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and use an insect repellent which lists “DEET” as a main ingredient to cover all exposed skin. To double your protection, you can layer the repellent over clothes as well.

Create a Mosquito-Free Home: Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos, so be sure to limit the amount of standing water around your home. Empty water once or twice a week from buckets, bird baths, cat/dog water bowls, and flower pots. In addition, be sure to clean out any clogged drains, and keep up on pool maintenance. To keep mosquitos outside of the home, make sure to install screens on doors and windows and properly maintain them.

Keep Your Community Healthy: Although there is a mosquito control program in Kern County, you can do your part in helping keep the WNV numbers in our county low by reminding friends and neighbors to follow the easy-to-remember “Three D’s” recommended by the Kern County Public Health Services Department: Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, use insect repellent with DEET, and drain any standing water on your property.

For more information about West Nile Virus, feel free to call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 187781VIRUS or visit the Public Health website at

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Tags: Camp, Health, Travel

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