The most effective way to prevent infection from West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, treat clothing and gear, and take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors.
Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites
Use Insect Repellent
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsexternal with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
Find the right insect repellent for you by using EPA’s search toolexternal.
Tips for babies and children
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- When using insect repellent on your child:
- Always follow label instructions.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
- Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
Tips for everyone
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
Natural insect repellents (repellents not registered with EPA)
- We do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents.
- To protect yourself against diseases spread by mosquitoes, CDC and EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent.
- Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness.
- Visit the EPA website to learn more.external
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Treat clothing and gear
- Use 0.5% permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
- Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes.
- Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings.
- Read product information to find out how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions.
- Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
- Watch the video, What You Need to Know About Permethrin.
Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors
- Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
- Use air conditioning, if available.
- Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
- Check for water-holding containers both indoors and outdoors.
Mosquito Bite Prevention for the United States
How to Protect Against Mosquito Bites for Travelers
Mosquito Bites Can Make You Sick