The West Nile Virus is a permanent part of the Northern Colorado ecosystem. The blood-borne virus is spread by mosquitos that feed between dusk and dawn. While 80 percent of people infected with WNV have no symptoms, about 1 in 150 suffers a severe neurologic disease, which can cause inflammation of brain tissues and require months of recovery. Luckily, parents can take easy measures for protecting against West Nile Virus.
Preventing transmission of WNV is largely a matter of controlling the mosquito population around your home and protecting your family from bites.
- Use EPA-Registered Insect Repellents: Safe for children older than two months and breastfeeding and pregnant women, EPA-registered insect repellents are your best line of defense against WNV. Look for repellents that contain DEET, 2-undecanone , Picaridin, IR3535, OLE or PMD.
- Limit Exposure: The culex species of mosquito that transmits WNV is most active at dawn and dusk. Remain indoors during these high-activity times of day.
- Dress Appropriately: Shorts and T-shirts may be the summer uniform for many children in Fort Collins, but they leave a lot of exposed skin for mosquitos to bite. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants reduce risk exposure, and can be comfortably worn after dusk when mosquitos are most active.
- Mosquito Netting: It’s not safe to apply insect repellents to infants, so use physical barriers such as mosquito netting on cribs and strollers.
- Reduce Breeding Areas: The fewer mosquitos that are around you house, the fewer mosquito bites your family suffers. Help control mosquito populations by removing standing water where they lay their eggs. Don’t let standing water collect around your home, and drain buckets, planters, tires and toys. Landscaping items, such as birdbaths, fountains and wader pools should be drained and refilled every seven days to eliminate eggs.
Bites infected with WNV typically have a red area around the original bite that expands as the infection progresses. First symptoms typically occur between three and 14 days after the bite. More extreme symptoms include nausea, fever or disorientation. Speak with a physician if you think a family member may be infected.
WNV is a part of Larimer County’s summer ecosystem, so everyone who lives here should take measures for protecting against West Nile Virus. Make them part of your summer routine, and your family can enjoy both the outdoors as well as peace of mind that they’re protected.