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Just Ask Us: How can I protect myself from West Nile Virus?

July 30, 2018

Applying insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants and eliminating standing water around a home are some ways to minimize the chance of getting bit by a mosquito and contracting West Nile virus.

Q: How can I protect myself from West Nile virus?

A: While it may be the middle of mosquito season, there are a number of precautions to help prevent contracting a mosquito-borne illness such as West Nile virus.

Using insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET, applying permethrin to clothes and limiting time outdoors at dawn and dusk from May to September are some ways to minimize exposure to mosquitoes that could be carrying West Nile virus, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Other suggested measures are wearing long-sleeve shirts, long pants, high socks and closed-toe shoes when outside. Additionally, standing water around a home should be eliminated because mosquitoes can breed there.

West Nile virus is an illness spread to humans by mosquitoes that have fed on birds with the virus, according to the Department of Health Services. Few mosquitoes are carriers of the virus, however.

So far this season in Dane County, one case of the virus has been found in a dead bird, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County.

In 2017, Dane County had its highest number — eight — of West Nile virus cases in humans on record, Public Health Madison & Dane County reported.

Symptoms of the illness include fever, headache, joint pain, aches, vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes, according to the Department of Health Services.

Less than 1 percent of infected humans become seriously ill, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County. About 80 percent of humans infected with West Nile virus don’t get sick.

For more information, go to go.madison.com/west-nile-virus or go.madison.com/mosquito.

— Chris Aadland

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