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West Nile Virus and What You Can Do About It.

West Nile Virus is a risk you can do something about with a few simple steps.

West Nile Virus is now in most of the United States and has now been detected in Rhode Island and South Eastern Ma. The most important way people become infected is through the bite of an infected mosquito. You can reduce your chance of getting infected by avoiding mosquito bites.

Adults are at highest risk. People over the age of 50 have a higher risk for becoming seriously ill when they get infected with West Nile virus. People under age 50 can also become sick but it is less likely. When most people get infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms. Some develop a mild illness call West Nile Fever. This mild illness gets better on its own. No treatment is needed.

A small number of people (less then 1 out of 100) who get infected with West Nile virus develop severe disease, called West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis (inflammation of the brain or the area around the brain). This severe disease usually requires hospitalization. In come cases, especially among older person, it can result in death.

Symptoms of severe illness include headache, High fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors (shaking), convulsions, coma and paralysis. See your doctor if you develop these symptoms.

There is no specific treatment for the West Nile virus infection. There is no vaccine available for people.

Three ways to reduce you West Nile virus risk.

1. Avoid mosquito bites.
Repellents should be used only according to directions. Repellents containing DEET are very safe for adults and children. Don’t put repellents on kids’s hands because it may get in their mouth or eyes.

2. Mosquito Proof your home.

Screens: Keep mosquitoes outside by fixing or installing windows and door screens.
Drain Standing Water: Don’t give mosquitoes a place to breed. A small amount of standing water can be enough for mosquito to lay her eggs.
Look around every week for possible mosquito breeding places. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool cover, flower pots and other items. Throw away or cover up stored tires and other items that aren’t being used. Clean pets water bowls weekly. Check if rain gutters are clogged. If you store water outside or have a well, make sure its covered up. Encourage you neighbors to do the same.

3. Help your community!
Dead birds help Health departments track West Nile virus. Check with local or state health department to find out their policy for reporting dead birds.

Ticks, The Winter and You

Most people think that bloodsuckers like mosquitoes and ticks disappear along with the risk for disease transmission once there is a frost and the weather turns cooler. That’s true for mosquitoes; they either die, or some species go into a feeding diapause. Some ticks also go into a feeding diapause in the autumn, but not deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) – they are a different type of bug! The adult stage deer tick actually begins its feeding activity about the time of first frost (or early October throughout its range), and it will latch onto any larger host (cat to human) any day that the temperature is near or above freezing.

Some species, like American dog tick and Lone Star tick are just not active in fall and winter months. Others, like Blacklegged (deer) tick can remain active in their adult stage from fall to spring as long as the temperature is above freezing. Each life stage (larvae, nymph and adult) of any species of tick has a discrete time period when it is most likely to be looking for a host.

If you have stopped your pets tick prevention over the winter, get it started again now. Advice from Tick Encounters URI, Outdoor dogs and cats will likely be the first family members to find a tick.

Eliminate tick habitats

During the Heat of summer deer ticks are not hanging out in the middle of your lawn. They are living at the edge of your lawn in the leaf littler and debre. Any place that is shady. Pa real close attention to wood piles, Tall grass, sheds and stone walls. Creating boarders using stone or wood chips is helpful to maintain a barrier between tick safe areas and tick risky areas.


By trimming shrubs and low branches you can help eliminate areas that ticks like to live. Planting deer resistant plants will help keep the deer out of your yard. Remove bird feeders to a low traffic area. Seeds attract other wildlife.

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