The Florida Department of Health has confirmed 19 human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in 2012, most recently last week in Hillsborough County. The peak transmission period is July through October. The virus continues to pop up throughout the United States, including a severe outbreak in Texas.
What precautions should we be taking for ourselves, children and pets to avoid being infected by the virus should it spread throughout Central Florida?
Dr. Milan Janmeja, assistant professor of internal medicine at the UCF College of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist at the college’s physician practice, UCF Pegasus Health, has created a list of recommendations to help avoid contracting the West Nile virus, such as the proper application of chemicals like DEET or Permethrin.
- Avoid activity in areas where potentially infective mosquitoes are present.
- Eliminate conditions that promote standing water and thus mosquito breeding by cleaning rain gutters, removing discarded tires, removing trash or containers that are hard to see in areas such as under homes or under bushes.
- Maintain all window and door screens.
- Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors.
- Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk and early evening which are peak mosquito biting hours.
- At least one to two times a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water containers, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels and cans
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers/strollers when outdoors with infants or small children.
- Apply DEET containing insect repellents to exposed skin. Do NOT use DEET on children less than 2 years of age, or any child who has the potential to rub their eyes with their hands or place their hands in their mouth. Other repellents that can be used are Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also called PMD), or IR3535.
- Apply DEET or Permethrin to clothing. Do not use Permethrin on skin. It can only be used on clothing.