(NaturalNews) The best way to prevent against contracting West Nile virus is to take several simple measures that reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, according to recommendations from the Newton County, Missouri, Health Department.
West Nile virus is a normally harmless disease transmitted by mosquito bites. The majority of those infected with the disease will get better without feeling any symptoms, while a few may have flu-like symptoms such as a fever or head and muscle aches. In less than 1 percent of cases, however, the virus can cause serious disease or even death. Most serious cases occur in people over the age of 50.
Because most preventive measures prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in your neighborhood, however, even the young and healthy are advised to follow certain simple procedures.
"Even though your chance of becoming sick from West Nile virus is very low, it is still important to protect yourself and our community from mosquitoes," said Casey Himmelsbach of the Newton County Health Department.
Because mosquitoes can breed in as little as a teaspoonful of water, it is important to eliminate standing water sources from your house and yard. Pet dishes and bird baths should have their water changed daily. Outside, places that water can gather - such as old tires, cans, or piles of brush - should be removed. Grasses and brush should be kept short, and gutters should be kept clean and well-draining.
The health department advises people to prevent against getting bitten by making sure window screens are complete and tight-fitting, by wearing long sleeves, pants and socks when outdoors and by using approved insect repellents.
The department emphasized that a doctor should be consulted before using any insect repellant on a young child. Repellants containing DEET should never be applied to children under the age of 2 months, or to the hands of young children.