West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis or meningitis. The West Nile Virus is generally mild with symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches. The West Nile Virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. You cannot get the illness from another person with the illness or from dead or ill birds infected with the illness. What can you do to reduce your risk of getting West Nile? Reduce standing water breeding sites around your property, avoid mosquito habitats if possible, especially around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Use DEET insect repellents if you must be in those areas. Reducing Mosquitoes Around Your Home and Community Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Weeds, tall grass, and bushes provide an outdoor home for the adult Culex pipiens mosquito (the common house mosquito) which is most commonly associated with West Nile virus. Mosquitoes can enter homes through unscreened windows or doors, or broken screens.
- Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
- Repair or replace all screens in your home that have tears or holes.
- Remove all discarded tires from your property.
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered.
- Drain water from pool covers.
- Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.
- Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.
Please Note: Some local hardware stores may carry a product called Mosquito Dunk that contains a larvicide – Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) - for use in areas of standing water around the home. The County Department of Health recommends eliminating standing water around the home to reduce breeding sites for mosquitoes and warns that direct handling of larvicides may cause skin and eye irritation. If these products are purchased for home use, we recommend careful reading of the hazards label, directions, and details regarding storage and handling. Q: If my neighbors don't take care of the standing water in their yards, should I report them to the Health Department? A: We are asking County residents and business owners to take primary responsibility for eliminating standing water on their property. However, the Department of Health will take reports to track significant problem areas. Reports can be made to the Schenectady County Health Department to investigate stagnant water areas. Q: What can I do to reduce my risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus? A: Between April and October, when mosquitoes are active, take the following precautions: If outside during evening, nighttime and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, children and adults should wear protective clothing such as long pants, long sleeved-shirts, and socks. If outside during evening, nighttime and dawn hours, consider the use of an insect repellent containing 10% or less DEET (N, N-diethyl-methyl-meta-toluamide) for children and no more than 30% DEET for adults. Additionally, to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes: Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeved shirts when outside for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active (dawn and dusk). Consider the use of mosquito repellent - one that contains DEET. USE DEET ACCORDING TO MANUFACTURER'S DIRECTIONS:
- Do not use DEET on infants or pregnant women.
- Do not allow young children to apply DEET themselves.
- Do not apply DEET directly to children.
- Apply to your own hands and then put it on the child.
- DEET is effective for approximately four hours.
- Avoid prolonged or excessive use of DEET.
- Use sparingly to cover exposed skin and clothing.
- Wash all treated skin and clothing after returning indoors.
- Store DEET out of reach of children.
Note that Vitamin B, ultrasonic devices, incense and bug zappers have not been shown to be effective in preventing mosquito bites. Schenectady County West Nile Virus Response Plan Schenectady County Public Health Services (SCPHS) recommends that people limit their time outdoors when mosquitoes are the most active and likely to bite – at dawn and dusk. The use of insect repellents will help reduce the chance of mosquitoes biting and transmitting WNV. SCPHS will not be collecting birds for WNV testing. There is no evidence that birds can transmit WNV to people. Therefore, not all dead birds need to be tested. For more information about West Nile virus, call the Schenectady County Health Department at (518) 386-2818.
107 Nott Terrace
Schenectady, NY 12308