West Nile Virus (WNV) Disease was first discovered in New York State in 1999 and is now considered endemic. WNV is spread by the bite of a mosquito that has was infected with the virus. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. The infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. WNV may cause a mild illness (fever, headache and body aches, nausea, and occasionally a skin rash), or may also cause potentially serious conditions such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). While chances of anyone becoming seriously ill are small, people over 50 years of age are at the highest risk for severe illness. Most people (70-80%) who are infected with WNV do not show symptoms. For those that do, symptoms usually occur from 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Protecting yourself from mosquito bites will help prevent the spread of WNV. The use of insect repellents may be helpful in minimizing exposure, as will wearing long sleeves and tucking pants into socks and shirt into pants when outdoors at dusk or dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
To reduce the mosquito population around your home, reduce or eliminate all standing water by properly maintaining swimming pools and hot tubs, drain water from pool covers, ensuring gutters are kept clean so they drain properly, disposing of used tires, and turning over wading pools, wheelbarrows or other equipment that collects water when not in use.