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West Nile Virus: What You Need to Know

Mick E. Talbot/flickr

This summer the West Nile Virus is back with a vengeance in Texas. It’s all over the news and the Mayor of Dallas has declared a state of emergency in the city. There have been 700 cases of the virus across the country with 25 percent of them in the Dallas area.

CBS News is reporting:

More than 200 cases of the virus have been reported in Dallas County, and 10 people have died. In the state, there have been more than 380 cases of West Nile virus in 2012, including 16 deaths, on track to have the most cases in the state since the virus first emerged in 2002, health officials said in a statement.

So, how do we protect ourselves? The Centers of Disease Control suggest these guidelines:

1. When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.

2. Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.

3. Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

4. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.

The site also states that 80% of people infected do not get sick will have no symptoms. People over the age 50 are at the highest risk.

Since birds can carry the virus, the site recommends to report dead birds:

Don’t handle the body with your bare hands. Contact your local health department for instructions on reporting and disposing of the body. They may tell you to dispose of the bird after they log your report.

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