Health officials are trying to get the word out early about the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.
They said standing water left over from last month's snow and rain is the perfect breeding ground for the insects, so you need to clear it out as quickly as possible.
"A majority of the mosquitoes that cause the problem are container breeders so you want to eliminate all standing water around your property and wear long, loose, and light clothing," said Allen Gutshall, the Environmental Health Program Manager for the Central Shenandoah Health District.
The Health Department said most people bitten by a mosquito do not become sick, and only one in 200 people who are infected will become seriously ill, but last year 274 died from the virus.
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West Nile virus Facts
- The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.
- The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.
- The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.
How is the West Nile virus Spread?
- The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.
- A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.
- West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.
- Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.
- 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.
- 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.
- 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.
Symptoms of the Virus
- The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.
- Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.
- Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.
- Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.
- Wear long and light colored clothing.
- Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.
- Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.
- Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.
Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report