Tips to help prevent West Nile virus
NEW YORK (WABC) -- May marks the beginning of mosquito season, and already states such as Pennsylvania and California are reporting their first cases of West Nile virus.
And prevention methods have already started here in our area. So what can you do to protect yourself?
Since West Nile first appeared in the United States 12 years ago, many people became infected and more than 1,000 have died. We've learned a lot about this mosquito-borne illness since then, and how to cope with it.
Because we had a relatively mild winter, mosquitoes are expected to be out in force this year. To combat the virus, prevention methods began this week in Westchester County. And New York City health inspectors are fining homeowners who leave standing water on their property.
The problem can be deadly, especially for people with poor immune systems. Signs of West Nile are much like the flu, and symptoms include headaches, aches and pains, extreme exhaustion, fever and disorientation.
So how can you avoid the annoying and potentially dangerous mosquitoes?
Always remember these insects love water. They breed in it, so cut down on standing water.
"Anything that might hold water, like a saucer on a pot plant on a terrace, a child's paddling pool, just drainage in the garden, you want to make sure there's no standing water around," one health expert said.
You can also try to wear long sleeves and long pants during the hours when mosquitoes are out, usually during the dawn and dusk hours. And use bug spray and bug lanterns to keep them away. ---
Some people experience only mild flu-like symptoms after contracting West Nile virus, but the infection can cause meningitis or encephalitis, which can result in a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain or spinal cord.
Reducing Exposure to Mosquitoes
If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, see your doctor right away. The most common symptoms are headache, fever and extreme fatigue. For more information about West Nile virus, and how to avoid it, visit the Health Department website at www.nyc.gov/health or call 311.
Information on West Nile virus surveillance is available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wnv/wnvrrs.shtml/a>.
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