BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reminds citizens to take necessary steps to lessen your risk of contracting West Nile Virus.
Recent rain may have left standing water around your home. Mosquitoes can breed in that water.
"It's important to check for standing water in buckets, swimming pool covers and anywhere else that could cause a problem," DHH State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said.
The West Nile Virus is passed on when an infected mosquito bites a human. State health officials say 90% of the cases are asymptomatic, while about 10% of those bitten will develop West Nile fever.
The more serious type is known as West Nile neuroinvasive disease which can lead to paralysis, brain damage and even death. In 2014, Louisiana saw 61 cases of the neuroinvasive disease. State health officials say people who are at least 65 years old are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.
Louisiana's DHH has been tracking West Nile Virus in the state for years. You can read more about their findings at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/fightthebite.
Below are some safety tips offered by the state.
· If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30 percent DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than two months old. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.
· Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
· To apply repellent to your face, spray it on your hands first, then apply on your face with your hands.
· Adults should always apply repellent to children.
· Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for extended periods of time.
· Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
· Make sure your house has tight-fitting windows and doors and that all screens are free of holes.
Protecting Your Home
· Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitos breed.
· Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children's toys or anything that could collect water.
· Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers.
· Routinely clean roof gutters, which are often overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitos each season.
· Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
· Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool left untended by a family for a month can produce enough mosquitos to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitos may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.