It’s Mosquito Time. Here’s How to Zap the Bugs that Spread West Nile Virus

Aedes mosquito sucking blood
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Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, but mosquitos are already trying for this season’s overachiever award.

This year’s first human case of West Nile Virus has been reported in Ramsey County, North Dakota.

The virus can cause relatively minor symptoms like fever, vomiting and fatigue. In severe cases, it can lead to life-threatening neurological infections like encephalitis and meningitis.

Preliminary reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate 2,002 cases of West Nile virus infection were reported across 47 states and the District of Columbia in 2017. About two-thirds of the cases involved a disease such as encephalitis or meningitis.

It’s tough to forecast how severe this year’s West Nile virus outbreak may be, so taking steps to prevent the infection is your best defense.

How to Combat West Nile Virus

The virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes, so it’s important to control the mosquito population in and around your home.

Mosquitoes love to lay their eggs in pools of water, so the CDC recommends removing standing water that may attract the little buggers.

  • Dump accumulated water out of things in your yard, including flowerpot saucers, birdbaths and trash containers.
  • Cover water-storage containers like rain barrels and buckets.
  • Repair damage to plumbing pipes, open vents and septic tanks.
  • Treat large containers of nonpotable water with larvicide.
  • Use an outdoor insect spray to kill mosquitoes lingering on patio furniture and any dark, humid places they may be hiding.

Mosquitoes can enter your home through damaged screens and open doors, so close or seal gaps that lead outdoors. If you notice mosquitoes in your home, use an indoor fogger or indoor insect spray to kill them. Reapply as needed. Just remember, the CDC says insecticide alone won’t eradicate mosquitoes.

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure to protect yourself from virus-carrying mosquito bites when you spend time outdoors, particularly at night.

The CDC recommends people use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET, a chemical that repels insects.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She got really itchy while writing this.