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West Nile risk reduction tips

September 09, 2002

With the number of confirmed cases of birds with the West Nile virus on the rise in Washington County, residents are being urged to take precautions to combat the spread of the virus.

People can reduce their risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus by taking the following steps to avoid mosquitoes:

  • Staying indoors at dawn or early in the evening.

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when going outdoors.

  • Spraying clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET, since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.

  • Applying insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin and following package instructions. An effective repellent contains 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethylmeta- toluamide). Higher concentrations of DEET do not provide additional protection. Contact your local health-care provider before applying DEET products to children.

    Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one-quarter of an inch of water. In addition to the personal protective measures listed above, residents should take the following precautions to reduce mosquito-breeding sites:

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  • Remove all discarded tires from your property.

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.

  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.

  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered.

  • Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week.

  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

  • Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.

  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their property.

  • Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats, pools, etc. Arrange the tarp to allow water to drain.

  • Pump out bilges in boats. Store canoes and small boats upside down.

  • Remove outdoor pet food and water dishes that are not being used.

  • Flush livestock water troughs twice a week.

  • Do not leave garbage can lids lying upside down. Be sure water does not collect in the bottom of garbage cans.

  • Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading prevent drainage problems.

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