Use Mosquito Repellent to Avoid the West Nile Virus

The West Nile virus has made news headlines recently. I’d written about it in 2010, but my old article, in a now-defunct online science magazine, “The West Nile Virus Triangle: Mosquitos, Crows and People“, still had the basic facts straight about the symptoms and, especially, how to prevent West Nile disease.

Recent Alarms about Mosquito Bites Transmitting West Nile Disease

"Culex pipiens Mosquito Biting a Finger" by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention via fairfaxcounty (Fairfax County)
“Culex pipiens Mosquito Biting a Finger” by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention via fairfaxcounty (Fairfax County)

The least important update may be that birds other than crows are carriers of the West Nile virus.

Earlier in this summer of 2012, “Dead Birds, Mosquitos Show High West Nile Virus Activity in California” sounded one alarm.

Earlier this month, “West Nile outbreak in U.S., rise in Ontario cases, alarm officials” agreed.

The Toronto Star newspaper chimed in with “West Nile Virus hitting Ontario hard” on Aug. 24, 2012.

How to Avoid West Nile Virus

The obvious advice for individuals is to avoid mosquito bites.

DEET is one highly recommended mosquito repellent. It’s the active ingredient in several commercial insect repellents that keep insects off.

Some people prefer natural repellents, such as smoky citronella candles. (Here’s a link to “Make Outdoor Citronella Bucket Candles“, although I’ve never tried and cannot personally vouch for his directions). Candles may be fine in your back yard, but they’re not practical when you’re hiking through the woods.

My original article has additional common-sense suggestions for avoiding mosquito bites. It also lists common symptoms of West Nile disease.

At the civic level, Toronto had been busy killing mosquito larvae in storm sewer catchment basins a couple years ago. They had also publicized the need for people to ensure that there was no standing water on their property. A simple example was to empty and refill bird baths frequently. Off-hand, I don’t remember seeing those instructions advertised this year.

This City of Toronto’s page is a good guide for health, prevention and civic duty: “West Nile Virus“.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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Thank you for reading about my article on using mosquito repellent to avoid West Nile disease.