Prevention & Control
The most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites. Be aware of the West Nile virus activity in your area and take action to protect yourself and your family.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
- When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
- Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.
Help Your Community West Nile Virus Surveillance and Control Programs
- Support your local community mosquito control programs. Mosquito control activities are most often handled at the local level, such as through county or city government. The type of mosquito control methods used by a program depends on the time of year, the type of mosquitoes to be controlled, and the habitat structure. Methods can include elimination of mosquito larval habitats, application of insecticides to kill mosquito larvae, or spraying insecticides from trucks or aircraft to kill adult mosquitoes. Your local mosquito control program can provide information about the type of products being used in your area. Check with your local health department for more information. Contact information may be found in the blue (government) pages of the phone book.
- Report dead birds to local authorities. Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus is circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area. By reporting dead birds to state and local health departments, you can play an important role in monitoring West Nile virus. State and local agencies have different policies for collecting and testing birds, so check with your state health department to find information about reporting dead birds in your area.
Additional Information about Insect Repellents
- Page last reviewed: February 12, 2015
- Page last updated: November 10, 2015
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