Weekly Feature

2017-09-13 / Editorial

West Nile virus can be prevented through caution

Bee Editorial

West Nile virus has been identified in a mosquito pool in Erie County, in the Town of Amherst, according to the state Department of Health, which regularly conducts the testing and recently identified this case.

According to a press release from the department, no other local surveillance is being conducted, but it is suspected that other areas also have similar West Nile virus mosquito pools.

The department said in the release that it strongly recommends that all residents protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Among the suggestions offered: Limit outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity, dusk and dawn; cover as much as skin as possible with clothing when going outdoors; and use an effective insect repellant that contains 25 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne illness that is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito. There are no medications to treat the infection, and there are no vaccines to prevent it.

The release said that, fortunately, the majority of individuals infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. Approximately one in five people infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1 percent of infected people will develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness.

Certain steps can be taken to ensure that you and your family take the necessary precautions to protect against the transmission of the virus.

• Eliminate local mosquito breeding sites. Mosquitoes develop in standing water.

• Do not leave standing water for longer than two days before dumping it out.

Change water in birdbaths and planter bases every two days.

Clean clogged gutters to allow rainfall to drain freely.

Reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Avoid mosquito bites by limiting outdoor activities during the times of high mosquito activity at dusk and dawn. Mosquito traps, electrocutors, ultrasonic repellers and similar devices purported to prevent mosquitoes from biting people are not effective. Do not rely on them to reduce mosquito bites, and do not waste money on them.

• Use barriers to protect skin, such as mosquito nets or screens, for baby strollers and playpens, and wear long sleeves, pants, socks, shoes and hats.

• Mosquitoes are attracted to people by odors on the skin, so avoid wearing scented lotions, cologne or perfume.

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