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
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- 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 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.
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 indoors and outdoors.
Prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas
- Choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that does not have screens.
- Buy a bed net at your local outdoor store or online before traveling overseas.
- Choose a WHOPES-approved bed net: compact, white, rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch, and long enough to tuck under the mattress.
- Permethrin-treated bed nets provide more protection than untreated nets.
- Do not wash bed nets or expose them to sunlight. This will break down the insecticide more quickly.
- For more information on bed nets, visit CDC’s page on insecticide-treated bed nets.
- For more information on traveling overseas, visit Travelers’ Health.