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posted on June 05, 2009 11:18
NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                       Emily Simnitt
June 5, 2009                                                                                                                              (208) 334-0693
 
It’s Time to ‘Fight the Bite’ of Mosquitoes To Prevent West Nile Virus
 
With warm weather finally here, Idaho health officials are reminding people to “Fight the Bite” of mosquitoes when they are outdoors and around their homes to help protect against West Nile virus. Last summer, 40 Idahoans became ill with West Nile virus and the infection contributed to one death.
 
“While we can’t predict what kind of mosquito season we’ll have, we do know that West Nile virus is here to stay in Idaho,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “Our past experience tells us that West Nile virus infection can cause serious illness in all age groups, but especially in people over the age of 50. The best way to prevent infection is to prevent mosquito bites by taking a few simple precautions.”
 
Those precautions include avoiding mosquitoes when they are most active, between dusk and dawn. In addition, you should:
  • Cover up exposed skin when outdoors and apply DEET or other EPA-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Follow instructions on the product label, especially for children;
  • Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens; and
  • Reduce standing water on your property and change bird baths and decorative ponds weekly as they can provide a mosquito breeding habitat.
 
West Nile virus is usually spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile virus does not generally spread from person-to-person or from infected animals to people.
 
West Nile virus does not usually affect most domestic animals, including dogs and cats, but can cause severe illness in horses and certain species of birds. Although there is not a vaccine available for people, there are several vaccines available for horses. People are advised to contact their veterinarian about vaccinating their horses.
 
“Now is the time to take precautions as people spend more time outdoors doing yard work and taking part in outdoor recreation opportunities”, says Tengelsen.
 
“We all need to be reminded of the health threats posed by West Nile virus. By taking personal protective measures and doing our part in reducing mosquito habitat around our homes, we can all “Fight the Bite” and enjoy the great Idaho outdoors this summer.”
 
To learn more about West Nile virus visit www.westnile.idaho.gov
 
 
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(Editors: For more information please contact Department of Health and Welfare Public Information Officer Emily Simnitt, 208-334-0693.)