By Christine V.Amstutz, RN, MN
Supervisor Health Services
There are several species of mosquitoes in California that can transmit disease such as West Nile Virus (WNV) to humans or other animals. Although most people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all, flu-like symptoms may develop three to fourteen days after the mosquito bite. The virus poses a greater risk to people over 50 and factors such as a pre-disposing illness (diabetes, hypertension, immune system depression) may make one more vulnerable. The worst cases of WNV can be fatal.
The virus is here to stay until enough humans and animals contract it and become immune. There are no cases of animal to human or bird to human transmission. Currently there is not a vaccine for WNV, although a vaccine has been formulated for horses. WNV is part of laboratory screenings prior to blood donations.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:
- Avoid mosquito bites
- Bite-proof your home and community
- Community, city, and state mosquito control programs
- Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawnwhen mosquitoes are most active.
- Cover your skin with protective clothing
- Protect bare skin with mosquito repellent containing DEET
- Empty containers holding water in which mosquitos’ breed
Any repellent containing DEET provides extra protection. Spray according to the amount of time you are going to be outside and use the least concentration (4-30%). The Public Health Department recommends washing off the spray each time before you re-spray the repellent.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) 1-800-311-3435