WNV’s effects can range from a mild fever to more severe diseases, such as encephalitis or meningitis, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms, but the 20 percent or so people who do experience symptoms will have a fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph glands. They may also develop a skin rash.
Those with more severe symptoms may experience neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, numbness and paralysis.
Here are some tips to avoid mosquitoes and WNV by the Mass Department of Health:
- Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 (3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)], according to the instructions on the product label.
- DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children.
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
- Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
More information on choosing and using repellents safely is included in the MDPH Mosquito Repellents fact sheet which can be viewed online at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv. If you can’t go online, contact the MDPH at (617) 983-6800 for a hard copy.
Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.
Remove areas of standing water around your home. Here are some suggestions:
- Look around outside your house for containers and other things that might collect water and turn them over, regularly empty them, or dispose of them.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors so that water can drain out.
- Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of rainwater.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths every few days; aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish.
- Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.